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The Adaptation Finance Gap Report 2016

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GAP
REPORT
FINANCE
THE ADAPTATION
Published by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), May 2016
Copyright © UNEP 2016
Publication: Adaptation Finance Gap Report
ISBN: 978-92-807-3498-0
Job Number: DEP/1912/NA
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CITATION
This document may be cited as:
UNEP 2016. The Adaptation Finance Gap Report 2016. United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP),
Nairobi, Kenya
A digital copy of this report along with a supporting appendix (online only) is available at:
http://www.unep.org/climatechange/adaptation/gapreport2016/
This report was funded through contributions made to the United Nations Environment Programme by
the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency and the Government of Norway. Climate
Analytics, Climate Policy Initiative, Fondazione Enrico Mattei, German Development Institute, Netherlands
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, Overseas
Development Institute, Paul Watkiss Associates, Stockholm Environment Institute, Umeå University, United
Nations Development Programme, United Nations Institute for Training and Research, United Nations
World Food Programme, and Vivid Economics contributed to the report in-kind, through the time spent
by the authors and members of the steering committee. This is greatly acknowledged.
UNEP promotes
environmentally sound practices
globally and in its own activities. This
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using vegetable – based inks and other eco-
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GAP
REPORTREPORT
FINANCE
THE ADAPTATION
ii Acknowlegdements
The Adaptation Finance Gap Report iii
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) would
like to thank the steering committee members, the lead and
contributing authors, and the project coordination team
for their contribution to the development of this report.
The following individuals have provided input to the report.
Authors and reviewers contributed to this report in their
individual capacity and their affiliations are only mentioned
for identification purposes.
PROJECT STEERING COMMITTEE
Keith Alverson (UNEP), Barbara Buchner (Climate Policy
Initiative), Muyeye Chambwera (United Nations Development
Programme), Barney Dickson (UNEP), Sandra Freitas (Climate
Analytics), Anil Markandya (Basque Centre for Climate
Change), Youssef Nassef (United Nations Framework
Convention on Climate Change), Martin Parry (Imperial
College London)
CHAPTER 1
Lead Author: Skylar Bee (UNEP DTU Partnership)
Contributing authors: Aaron Atteridge (Stockholm
Environment Institute), Pieter Pauw (German Development
Institute), Pieter Terpstra (Netherlands Ministry of Foreign
Affairs), Paul Watkiss (Paul Watkiss Associates)
CHAPTER 2
Lead Authors: Paul Watkiss (Paul Watkiss Associates), Florent
Baarsch (Climate Analytics), Nick Kingsmill (Vivid Economics)
Contributing authors: Francesco Bosello (Fondazione Eni
Enrico Mattei), Federica Cimato (Paul Watkiss Associates),
Kelly de Bruin (Umeå University), Enrica de Cian (Fondazione
Eni Enrico Mattei)
CHAPTER 3
Lead Authors: Chiara Trabacchi (Climate Policy Initiative),
Gisela Campillo (Organisation for Economic Co-operation
and Development), Stephanie Ockenden (Organisation for
Economic Co-operation and Development)
Contributing Authors: Ilaria Gallo (United Nations Institute
for Training and Research), Pradeep Kurukulasuriya (United
Nations Development Programme), Joanne Manda (United
Nations Development Programme), Angus Mackay (United
Nations Institute for Training and Research), Mariana Mirabile
(Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development),
Charlene Watson (Overseas Development Institute)
CHAPTER 4
Lead Authors: Aaron Atteridge (Stockholm Environment
Institute), Pieter Pauw (German Development Institute), Pieter
Terpstra (Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Contributing Authors: Fabio Bedini (World Food
Programme), Lorenzo Bosi (World Food Programme), Cecilia
Costella (World Food Programme)
CHAPTER 5
Lead Author: Anne Olhoff (UNEP DTU Partnership)
EDITORIAL TEAM
Daniel Puig (UNEP DTU Partnership), Anne Olhoff (UNEP
DTU Partnership), Skylar Bee (UNEP DTU Partnership), Barney
Dickson (UNEP), Keith Alverson (UNEP)
PROJECT COORDINATION
Anne Olhoff (UNEP DTU Partnership), Skylar Bee (UNEP
DTU Partnership), Daniel Puig (UNEP DTU Partnership),
Jesica Andrews (UNEP), Rebecca Rotich (UNEP), Lucy Ellen
Gregersen (UNEP DTU Partnership), Annahita Maria Boje
Nikpour (UNEP DTU Partnership)
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
iv Acknowlegdements
MEDIA SUPPORT
Mette Annelie Rasmussen (UNEP DTU Partnership), Kelvin
Memia (UNEP), Surabhi Goswami (UNEP DTU Partnership),
Shereen Zorba (UNEP), Miles Amoore (UNEP), David Cole
(UNEP), Michael Logan (UNEP), Nicolien Delange (UNEP),
Roxanna Samii (UNEP), Salome Mbeyu (UNEP), Tamiza Khalid
(UNEP)
REVIEWERS
Bhim Adhikari (International Development Research Centre),
Mozaharul Alam (UNEP), Preety Bhandari (Asian Development
Bank), Ian Burton (University of Toronto), Stuart Crane (UNEP),
Edgar Cruz (UNEP), Robert Dellink (The Organisation for
Economic Co-operation and Development), Andrew Deutz
(The Nature Conservancy), Philip Drost (UNEP), Ermira Fida
(UNEP), Jens Fugl (European Comission), Andreas Hof (PBL
Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency), Livia
Hollins (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate
Change), Cornelia Jäger (European Commission), Xianfu
Lu (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate
Change), Alexandre Magnan (The Institute for Sustainable
Development and International Relations), Rojina Manandhar
(United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change),
Ulf Moslener (Frankfurt School of Finance and Management),
Michael Mullan (The Organisation for Economic Co-
operation and Development), Richard Munang (UNEP), Xolisa
Ngwadla (South Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial
Research), Ian Noble (Notre Dame Global Adaptation
Index), Janak Pathak (UNEP), Elena Pita (UNEP), Loreta Rufo
(Asian Development Bank), Erin Schiffer (UNEP), George
Scott (UNEP), Jason Spensley (Climate Technology Centre
and Network), Merlyn Van Voore (UNEP), Yolando Velasco
(United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change),
Sáni Zou (The Institute for Sustainable Development and
International Relations)
DESIGN AND LAYOUT
Phoenix Design Aid
GRAPHS
Weeks.de
PRINTING
Frederiksberg Bogtrykkeri A/S
The Adaptation Finance Gap Report v
CONTENTS
Glossary .......................................................................................................................................................................................... vii
Acronyms ....................................................................................................................................................................................... ix
Foreword ........................................................................................................................................................................................ xi
Executive summary ...................................................................................................................................................................... xii
CHAPTER 1
Introduction .................................................................................................................................................................................. 1
1.1 Context and objectives of the report .................................................................................................................................................................................... 2
1.2 Adaptation finance in international climate negotiations ....................................................................................................................................... 3
1.3 Key concepts underlying the adaptation finance gap assessment ................................................................................................................... 5
1.4 Structure of the Report ................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 6
CHAPTER 2
The costs of adaptation ............................................................................................................................................................... 9
Key findings ..................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 10
2.1 Introduction........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 10
2.2 Global level estimates of the costs of adaptation in developing countries .................................................................................................. 11
2.3 National and sector estimates of the costs of adaptation in developing countries ................................................................................ 12
2.3.1 National studies ................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 13
2.3.2 Sector studies ........................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 13
2.4 Why cost estimates differ .............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 14
2.4.1 Coverage .................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 14
2.4.2 Objectives and quantification methods............................................................................................................................................................... 15
2.4.3 Time-scales, and future greenhouse-gas emission pathways ................................................................................................................ 15
2.4.4 Uncertainty ............................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 16
2.4.5 Limits of adaptation .......................................................................................................................................................................................................... 16
2.4.6 Aggregation ........................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 16
2.4.7 Adaptation deficit ............................................................................................................................................................................................................... 16
2.4.8 Additional cost categories and soft versus hard adaptation ................................................................................................................... 16
2.4.9 Learning, innovation, scale and the private sector ........................................................................................................................................ 16
2.4.10 Implementation costs and effectiveness ............................................................................................................................................................. 16
2.5 Moving toward practice ................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 18
vi Contents
CHAPTER 3
Adaptation nance....................................................................................................................................................................... 21
Key findings ..................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 22
3.1 Introduction........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 22
3.2 An overview of adaptation finance levels and trends ................................................................................................................................................ 23
3.2.1 Public adaptation finance flows ................................................................................................................................................................................ 23
3.2.2 Key sources of international public adaptation finance ............................................................................................................................. 24
3.2.3 Key instruments channelling international public adaptation finance ............................................................................................ 25
3.2.4 Sectoral uses and geographical distribution of international public adaptation finance .................................................... 27
3.3 Tracking adaptation finance........................................................................................................................................................................................................ 28
3.3.1 Increased data comparability ...................................................................................................................................................................................... 28
3.3.2 Improved data accessibility .......................................................................................................................................................................................... 28
3.3.3 Expanded knowledge on the linkages between public and private finance ............................................................................... 28
CHAPTER 4
Private sector nance for adaptation ....................................................................................................................................... 31
Key findings ..................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 32
4.1 Introduction ......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 32
4.2 Evidence about private sector financing for adaptation ........................................................................................................................................... 33
4.2.1 Climate bonds ...................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 33
4.2.2 Remittances ........................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 34
4.2.3 Domestic private investment ...................................................................................................................................................................................... 35
4.3 Mobilising private sector financing for adaptation ...................................................................................................................................................... 35
4.3.1 Non-financial interventions.......................................................................................................................................................................................... 35
4.3.2 Financial interventions .................................................................................................................................................................................................... 36
CHAPTER 5
The adaptation nance gap and prospects for bridging it .................................................................................................. 39
5.1 Introduction........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 40
5.2 The adaptation finance gap – now and in the future ................................................................................................................................................. 40
5.3 Bridging the adaptation finance gap .................................................................................................................................................................................... 42
5.3.1 Enhancing mitigation ambition ................................................................................................................................................................................ 42
5.3.2 Making development climate resilient ................................................................................................................................................................. 42
5.3.3 Scaling up finance for adaptation ............................................................................................................................................................................ 42
5.3.4 Ensuring effectiveness and efficiency of resource use ............................................................................................................................... 43
5.4 The Paris Agreement and the way forward ....................................................................................................................................................................... 44
References...................................................................................................................................................................................... 46
The Adaptation Finance Gap Report vii
GLOSSARY
Adaptation In human systems, the process of adjustment to actual or expected climate and its
effects in order to moderate harm or exploit beneficial opportunities. In natural systems,
the process of adjustment to actual climate and its effects; human intervention may
facilitate adjustment to expected climate.
Adaptation benets The avoided damage costs or the accrued benefits following the adoption and
implementation of adaptation measures.
Adaptation costs Costs of planning, preparing for, facilitating, and implementing adaptation measures,
including transaction costs.
Adaptation decit The gap between the current state of a system and a state that minimizes adverse
impacts from existing climate conditions and variability.
Adaptive capacity The combination of the strengths, attributes and resources available to an individual,
community, society, or organization that can be used to prepare for and undertake
actions to reduce adverse impacts, moderate harm, or exploit beneficial opportunities.
Anticipatory adaptation Adaptation that takes place before impacts of climate change are observed. Also
referred to as proactive adaptation.
Attribution The process of evaluating the relative contributions of multiple causal factors to a
change or event with an assignment of statistical confidence.
Autonomous adaptation Adaptation that does not constitute a conscious response to climatic stimuli but is
triggered by ecological changes in natural systems and by market or welfare changes in
human systems.
Baseline State against which change is measured. It might be a current baseline, in which case it
represents observable, present-day conditions. It might also be a ‘future baseline’, which
is a projected future set of conditions excluding the driving factor of interest. Alternative
interpretations of the reference conditions can give rise to multiple baselines.
Climate Climate in a narrow sense is usually defined as the ‘average weather’, or more rigorously,
as the statistical description in terms of the mean and variability of relevant quantities
over a period of time ranging from months to thousands or millions of years. These
quantities are most often surface variables such as temperature, precipitation, and wind.
Climate in a wider sense is the state, including a statistical description, of the climate
system.
Climate (change) impacts The effects of climate change on natural and human systems.
Climate (change) scenario A plausible and often simplified representation of the future climate based on an
internally consistent set of climatological relationships and assumptions of radiative
forcing, typically constructed for explicit use as input to climate change impact models.
A ‘climate change scenario is the difference between a climate scenario and the current
climate.
The entries in this glossary are adapted from definitions provided by authoritative sources, such as the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
viii Glossary
Climate change Any change in climate over time, whether due to natural variability or as a result of
human activity.
Expenditure The ultimate payment of costs for goods and services (such as infrastructure,
technology, equipment, information/knowledge, labour and finance itself), including
in-kind or non-monetary contributions.
Finance The allocation of investment capital, and the way such capital is mobilised and delivered.
Through intermediary institutions, investment capital is made available as finance to
different public and private actors in need of funding for expenditure.
Maladaptation Actions that may lead to increased risk of adverse climate-related outcomes, increased
vulnerability to climate change, or diminished welfare, now or in the future.
Mitigation An anthropogenic intervention to reduce the anthropogenic forcing of the climate
system; it includes strategies to reduce greenhouse gas sources and emissions and
enhancing greenhouse gas sinks.
Planned adaptation Adaptation that is the result of a deliberate policy decision, based on an awareness that
conditions have changed or are about to change and that action is required to return to,
maintain, or achieve a desired state.
Private adaptation Adaptation that is initiated and implemented by individuals, households or private
companies. Private adaptation is usually in the actor’s rational self-interest.
Public adaptation Adaptation that is initiated and implemented by governments at all levels. Public
adaptation is usually directed at collective needs.
Reactive adaptation Adaptation that takes place after impacts of climate change have been observed.
Scenario A plausible and often simplified description of how the future may develop based
on a coherent and internally consistent set of assumptions about driving forces and
key relationships. Scenarios may be derived from projections but are often based on
additional information from other sources, sometimes combined with a ‘narrative
storyline’.
Uncertainty An expression of the degree to which a value (for example, the future state of the
climate system) is unknown. Uncertainty can result from lack of information or from
disagreement about what is known or even knowable. It may have many types of
sources, from quantifiable errors in the data to ambiguously defined concepts or
terminology, or uncertain projections of human behaviour. Uncertainty can therefore be
represented by quantitative measures (such as a range of values calculated by various
models) or by qualitative statements (for example, reflecting the judgement of a team of
experts).
Vulnerability The propensity or predisposition to be adversely affected.
The Adaptation Finance Gap Report ix
ACRONYMS
AF Adaptation Fund
ASAP Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture
Programme
CBI Climate Bonds Initiative
CCRA Climate Change Risk Assessment
CoP Conference of Parties
CPEIR Climate Public Expenditure and Institutional
Review
DFIs Development Finance Institutions
EACC Economics of Adaptation to Climate
Change
ECA Export Credit Agency
FDI Foreign Direct Investment
GDP Gross Domestic Product
GHG Greenhouse Gases
IAM Integrated Assessment Modelling
IFC International Finance Corporation
IFF Investment and Financial Flows
IPCC Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change
LAC Latin America and the Caribbean
LDCF Least Developed Countries Fund
LDCs Least Developed Countries
MDBs Multilateral Development Banks
MIGA Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency
MSME Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises
NAP National Adaptation Plan
NAPA National Adaptation Programme of Action
OECD DAC Organisation for Economic Cooperation
and Development, Development Assistance
Committee
ODA Official Development Assistance
OECD Organisation for Economic Cooperation and
Development
PPCR Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience
PPP Public Private Partnership
SCCF Special Climate Change Fund
SIDS Small-island Developing States
SME Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises
UNDP United Nations Development Programme
UNFCCC United Nations Framework Convention on
Climate Change
x Forwardx Foreword
The Adaptation Finance Gap Report xi
The Paris Agreement has raised the political profile of climate
resilience. There is now a global goal for climate change
adaptation and it is recognized that adaptation represents a
challenge with local, national and international dimensions.
The 2016 Adaptation Finance Gap Report explores the costs
of meeting adaptation needs and assesses the funding that is
available for doing so. It suggests that although international
public funding for adaptation has increased in recent years,
the previous assessments of the costs of adaptation have
involved significant underestimates. This leaves us with a gap
– the adaptation finance gap – which we need to fill if we are
to meet the ambitions of the Paris Agreement.
The Report considers the options for bridging the finance
gap. One of the strong messages emerging from the report
is that mitigation is the best first option. Because adaptation
is a function of a missed mark for mitigation, it is important
that there remains an emphasis on emission reductions.
Nevertheless, even if emissions can be cut effectively, a very
large adaptation burden will remain and the communities
least equipped to bear this burden will face the greatest
impacts.
It is for this reason that sustainable development and climate
solutions are closely linked. Without addressing climate
change impacts, sustainable development is undermined,
and investments are lost. We can ill afford such losses.
The Report considers the way in which private finance
can help to bridge the adaptation gap. It details four ways
governments and business can work together to encourage
better integration of adaptation practices, including
providing businesses with access to the information and
tools they need to integrate adaptation into investment
decisions.
Greater emphasis must be put on the question of
effectiveness. Increasing the volume of finance only
increases resilience if it is spent wisely. Adaptation is not
only about responding to specific impacts, but about
creating resilience to a range of uncertainties. Investing in
the underlying capacity of the most vulnerable people and
ecosystems therefore, is at the heart of truly sustainable
adaptation.
Mette Løyche Wilkie
Director
Division of Environmental Policy and Implementation
FOREWORD
The adoption of the Paris Agreement at the twenty-
first session of the Conference of the Parties (CoP21)
to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
in November 2015 was a landmark achievement, with
195 countries endorsing an ambitious climate change
agreement that includes a global goal on adaptation. More
robust information on adaptation needs, costs, and
nance is needed to guide and inform the successful
implementation of the Paris Agreement. To support the
provision of such information, the 2016 Adaptation Finance
Gap Report presents an indicative assessment of the current
knowledge on global adaptation costs, the finance available
to meet these costs, and the anticipated difference between
these two figures – the adaptation finance gap.
The report builds on a 2014 assessment by the United
Nations Environment Programme, which laid out the
concept of adaptation gaps and outlined three such gaps:
technology, finance and knowledge. Like the 2014 report,
the 2016 report focuses on developing countries, where
adaptation capacity is often the lowest and needs are the
highest, and concentrates on the period up to 2050, as the
short to medium term is considered the most relevant for
decision-making related to adaptation.
The report highlights trends and challenges associated with
measuring progress towards bridging the adaptation finance
gap, while informing national and international efforts to
advance adaptation. It analyses adaptation finance against the
background of the provisions laid out in the Paris Agreement,
and benefits from the insights included in the NDCs.
The Paris Agreement includes several provisions to
advance adaptation, of which three are particularly
important for the assessment in this report: the
adoption of a global goal for adaptation, the commitment to
increase UNFCCC developed country-party funding flowing
to developing country parties, and the requirement for
parties to draw-up and regularly update adaptation plans
and strategies. In addition, the Paris Agreement calls on
parties to the UNFCCC to engage in adaptation planning
processes and the implementation of actions” (Article 7.9),
as well as to report on progress every five years (Article 7.10).
Recognising that the methodologies needed to underpin
adaptation planning and implementation are poorly
developed, the Paris Agreement also includes a range of
provisions concerning methodology development.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
THE COSTS OF ADAPTATION
Cost estimates vary strongly with the level of global
warming, the methods used to estimate them, the ethical
choices made, the economic framework applied, and the
assumptions made. As such, there is no single estimate of
the costs of adaptation. The report provides an indicative
range of costs, based on an assessment of the literature.
Building on the 2014 Adaptation Gap Report, a more in-
depth review of national and sector cost estimates has been
undertaken for the preparation of this report. This work
confirms and reinforces the findings presented in the 2014
report: the costs of adaptation are likely to be two-
to-three times higher than current global estimates
by 2030, and potentially four-to-ve times higher by
2050. Previous global estimates of the costs of adaptation
in developing countries have been placed at between
US$70 billion and US$100 billion a year for the period 2010-
2050. However, the national and sector literature surveyed in
this report indicates that the costs of adaptation could range
from US$140 billion to US$300 billion by 2030, and between
US$280 billion and US$500 billion by 2050. This literature
highlights that assumptions have a strong influence on
the cost estimates, and that studies that focus on policy
xii Executive Summary
Adaptation gap definitions
The adaptation gap can be defined generically as the
difference between the level of adaptation actually
implemented and a societally set target or goal, which
reflects nationally determined needs related to climate
change impacts, as well as resource limitations and
competing priorities.
The adaptation finance gap can then be defined and
measured as the difference between the costs of,
and thus the finance required, for meeting a given
adaptation target and the amount of finance available
to do so. Assessment of the adaptation finance gap is
facilitated by the availability of a common monetary
metric. However it must be noted that finance is
a means rather than an end – availability of funds
does not guarantee that they are used efficiently and
effectively to increase climate resilience and reduce
vulnerability.
The Adaptation Finance Gap Report xiii
implementation and national circumstances generally
report higher adaptation costs.
The costs of adaptation in developing countries are
increasing, strengthening the case for immediate and
enhanced mitigation action. Global, national and sector
studies show that adaptation costs increase under higher
emissions scenarios. This reinforces the notion that deep
mitigation actions are the best insurance against rapidly
rising adaptation costs and the potential limits of adaptation.
Improved estimates of the costs of adaptation require more
and better-designed studies to be conducted. Additional
empirical studies are especially needed for sectors or risks
that are currently understudied, notably biodiversity and
ecosystem services. Testing how the choice of method
and assumptions affect cost estimates, possibly through
sensitivity testing and multi-model analysis, is equally
important. Not least, follow-up analyses are required, to
better understand the magnitude of opportunity, transaction
and implementation costs.
ADAPTATION FINANCE
Total bilateral and multilateral nance for climate
change adaptation reached US$25 billion in 2014, of
which US$22.5 billion targeted developing countries,
highlighting a steady rise over the past ve years.
Most funds originate from development finance institutions
(US$21 billion, or 84 per cent of the total) and are delivered
through low-cost or market-rate project debt (53 per cent
and 26 per cent of the total, respectively). Developing
countries in East Asia and the Pacific attract almost half of the
funding (some 46 per cent of the total). Over half of the total
finance (55 per cent) is directed to water and wastewater
management projects.
Dedicated climate funds help break down barriers
to investment in adaptation projects in developing
countries and play an important role in catalysing a
wide range of adaptation-related investments. They do
this by strengthening the capacities of local stakeholders,
creating incentives for institutions and investors (for example,
by offering concessional terms) and, ultimately, by taking on
risks from which commercial financiers will typically shy away.
The US$1.2 billion Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience
and the almost US$1 billion Least-developed Countries Fund
are the largest adaptation-targeted funds. Yet developed-
country contributions to these funds are low when
compared to contributions to mitigation-focused
funds. The Green Climate Fund, which recently entered into
operation, is expected to play a significant role in financing
adaptation, as it seeks to reach an equal split between
adaptation and mitigation.
By the end of 2015, just over US$35 billion, corresponding to
76 per cent of the resources pledged to adaptation-focused
climate funds, had been approved for disbursement. The
trend for the period 2011-2015 is one of growth, and includes
the approval of the Green Climate Fund’s first eight projects,
four of which are adaptation projects. Some of the poorest
countries in sub-Saharan African, and South Asia have
been the main recipients of funding for adaptation
from dedicated climate funds. Small-island developing
states are among the main recipients of adaptation
nance for disaster risk reduction.
A proper measurement, tracking, and reporting system
for adaptation investments is indispensable to ensure that
finance is used efficiently and targeted where it is most
needed. Significant progress has been made over the past
ten years in tracking international adaptation finance.
Improved tracking of, and reporting on, nancial
ows has the potential to increase the eciency with
which international adaptation nance is used. In
recent years, a number of steps have been taken to this end:
in February 2016 an improved definition of the OECD Rio
Marker for tracking bilateral official development assistance
targeting adaptation was adopted, and in early 2015, six
large multilateral development banks and the International
Development Finance Club agreed on a set of common
principles for tracking climate finance.
PRIVATE SECTOR FINANCE FOR
ADAPTATION
Despite progress, data gaps and difficulties in measuring and
reporting private financial flows persist. Climate-resilience
activities are often integrated into development
interventions or business activities, and therefore
rarely stand-alone. For this reason, private sector
adaptation-related investments are difficult to identify and
classify, which results in the data gaps mentioned above.
Yet the private sector plays a key role in adaptation. Beyond
management of its own exposure to climate risks, dierent
kinds of private nance – debt, equity, insurance
products – hold potential for helping to bridge the
xiv Executive Summary
adaptation nance gap. Improving our understanding of
private sector financing for adaptation is key to unleash this
potential.
Outside of a purely adaptation-related context, private sector
contributions – from foreign direct investment, private debt,
remittances and official development assistance – make-up
the largest components of financial inflows to developing
countries. The distribution of ows is uneven, with least-
developed countries struggling to attract signicant
volumes of private debt or equity outside resource
sectors.
While quantitative estimates of financial flows are not
available, private domestic investment and remittances
are good examples of adaptation-relevant investments.
Private domestic investment levels are rising in developing
countries and, if this trend holds true for micro- and small-
sized enterprises, a portion of those funds is likely to be
spent on adaptation-relevant activities, particularly for those
enterprises active in agriculture, a sector that is especially
sensitive to climate change.
Remittances are currently around 3.5 times larger than the
total flows of official development assistance, and play a
major role in developing country economies, for individual
households, and for small businesses and entrepreneurs.
Although data availability prevents assessing the share of
remittances going to adaptation-related uses, remittances
may be valuable from an adaptation perspective because
they tend to increase in cases of catastrophic weather
events and natural disasters in migrants’ countries of
origin. Furthermore, remittances reach households directly,
including those in remote and vulnerable areas, more rapidly
than public finance flows.
Generic barriers to private sector investment in developing
countries are well known, and include poor legal, economic
and regulatory frameworks, immature financial markets, and
currency exchange risks. These generic barriers obstruct
private sector adaptation to climate change. Adding to these
are barriers that are specific to climate change, such as the
cost-saving nature of adaptation investment, which contrasts
with the revenue-creation motivation of the private sector, or
various social and cultural barriers.
Domestic government agencies and development
institutions can help break down barriers to private
sector adaptation by undertaking targeted nancial
and non-nancial interventions. Strengthening the ability
of development banks to mobilise private sector investment
is the financial intervention that has been used most. Key
non-financial interventions include improving the provision
of data and information, and introducing policies that are
conducive to private sector investment, notably economic
inducements.
THE ADAPTATION FINANCE GAP
Today, developing countries already face an
adaptation nance gap. This gap is large and likely to grow
substantially over the coming decades, unless significant
progress is made to secure new and additional finance for
adaptation, and to put into effect ambitious mitigation
measures. This finding emerges from assessing the costs of
adaptation against available international public adaptation
finance.
Adaptation finance flows have increased in recent
years, but current finance levels fall short of present-day
adaptation costs and are likely to do so in the future.
Current adaptation costs are likely to be at least 2 to
3 times higher than international public nance for
adaptation. Looking forward to 2030, the assessment of
national and sector studies shows that adaptation costs
in the period around 2030 are likely to be in the range of
US$140-300 billion per annum, whereas international public
finance for adaptation in 2014 was around US$22.5 billion.
While the two figures are for different points in time and
differ in terms of definition and coverage, they illustrate
that, to meet nance needs and avoid an adaptation
gap, the total nance for adaptation in 2030 would
have to be approximately 6 to 13 times greater than
international public nance today. Moreover, the
potential adaptation finance gap in 2050 would be much
larger – in the order of between twelve-to-twenty-two times
current flows of international public adaptation finance.
Integrated assessment model estimates of the costs of
adaptation globally suggest that costs could be even higher
than the estimates produced in the context of national and
sector studies. Furthermore, model estimates illustrate the
emissions-dependency of adaptation costs, and highlight
that adaptation cost levels for different warming scenarios
could diverge as early as the 2030s. It follows that
enhanced mitigation ambition and pre-2020 action is
central for limiting adaptation costs.
Scaling up both public and private sources of finance is
required to bridge the adaptation finance gap, now and in
the future. Current estimates of adaptation finance flows are
partial, as data limitations and methodological challenges
prevent the inclusion of private sector and domestic public
finance flows for adaptation. However, exclusion of these
flows is unlikely to change the conclusions regarding short-
and medium-term adaptation finance gaps, as current
adaptation finance falls well short of needs.
The Paris Agreement restated the 2020 commitment by
developed country parties of mobilizing US$100 billion
per year for adaptation and mitigation until 2025, and
requires parties to increase that commitment after 2025.
Assuming an equal allocation of finance between adaptation
and mitigation (as called for in the Paris Agreement), this
The Adaptation Finance Gap Report xv
commitment could go a long way toward bridging the
adaptation finance gap.
The Paris Agreement and its implementation offer
opportunities for significantly bolstering progress with
adaptation to climate change and addressing the adaptation
finance gap. The Paris Agreement recognises that
adaptation is a global challenge with multifaceted
local, subnational, national, regional and international
dimensions and provides a framework for enhancing
global and national adaptation action. Implementation
of the methodological provisions in the Paris Agreement
would address many of the challenges identified in this
report with regard to estimating adaptation costs, and
(tracking and) mobilising additional financial flows for
adaptation, including from the private sector.
The Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs)
represent a valuable starting point for such eorts, and
the adaptation components in the NDCs indicate that
current costs exceed current nance levels. Furthermore,
the NDCs illustrate that there are similarities between
the types of climate risks and adaptation responses that
communities, sectors, countries and regions are facing, and
provide a stepping stone for framing clearer goals, targets
and metrics for adaptation, which can help set the direction
for adaptation action and facilitate tracking progress.
01
The Adaptation Finance Gap Report 1
CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION
LEAD AUTHOR
SKYLAR BEE UNEP DTU PARTNERSHIP
CONTRIBUTING AUTHORS (alphabetical)
AARON ATTERIDGE STOCKHOLM ENVIRONMENT
INSTITUTE, PIETER PAUW GERMAN DEVELOPMENT
INSTITUTE, PIETER TERPSTRA NETHERLANDS MINISTRY
OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, PAUL WATKISS PAUL WATKISS
ASSOCIATES
Photo: © Skylar Bee (UNEP DTU Partnership)
2 Chapter 1 | Introduction
1.1 CONTEXT AND OBJECTIVES
OF THE REPORT
The adoption of the Paris Agreement at the twenty-first
session of the Conference on the Parties (CoP21) to the
United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change
(UNFCCC) in November 2015 was a landmark achievement,
with 195 countries endorsing an ambitious climate change
agreement that includes a global goal on adaptation.
More robust information on adaptation needs, costs and
finance will be central to guide and inform the successful
implementation of the Paris Agreement. To support the
provision of such information, the 2016 Adaptation Finance
Gap Report provides an assessment of adaptation needs
and costs, the finance available to meet those needs, and
the anticipated difference between these two figures – the
adaptation finance gap. The report builds on the 2014
Adaptation Gap Report by the United Nations Environment
Programme (UNEP), which reviewed three areas – finance,
technology and knowledge – that contribute to successful
adaptation. In addition, the 2014 report put forward a
conceptual framework for assessing adaptation gaps
associated to meeting (hypothetical) goals in each of those
areas.
The conceptual framework developed by the 2014
Adaptation Gap Report assumes that an adaptation goal
can be established for the area of interest. It defines the
adaptation gap as the difference between the adaptation
levels that would be consistent with the agreed adaptation
goal at a given point in time, and the levels achieved through
the adaptation measures actually implemented (Box 1.1).
While it was presented in the context of the above three
areas only, the framework was designed to be applicable
across other areas that may be relevant to climate change
adaptation. The present report hones in on one such area
– finance – and provides an assessment of the literature
concerning the adaptation finance gap in a developing
country context. The adaptation finance gap is defined as the
difference between the costs of adaptation and the financing
available to meet them at a given point in time. Furthermore,
the present report expands on the preliminary findings
presented in a 2015 brochure by UNEP (UNEP 2015), which
also included an overview of the adaptation components in
the nationally determined contributions (NDCs).
The 2016 report reinforces the findings of the 2014 report.
It includes a more in-depth review of national-level cost
estimates (bottom-up studies), and global-level, sector-
specific estimates, while providing additional global-level
model estimates (top-down estimates).1 It updates and
complements information on climate finance for adaptation
presented in the 2014 report, for example, by highlighting
barriers to, and potential enablers of, adaptation finance.
Data and methodological issues remain, however, particularly
with the tracking of adaptation finance in both domestic
budgets as well as the private sector. This report takes
a closer look at the challenges and opportunities for
improvements in tracking adaptation finance, with a focus
on the private sector and the barriers and opportunities
for mobilising adaptation finance within it. It concludes by
assessing the state of the adaptation finance gap from now
until 2050, and the options for bridging it.
1 Bottom-up studies calculate costs by adding up the costs of each
of the measures in a specific, pre-determined portfolio of adapta-
tion actions. Typically, these actions are national or sub-national in
scope. In contrast, top-down studies calculate costs by relating total
impacts with impact damages, often at the global level and on the
basis of a sectoral breakdown of cost elements.
Box 1.1: Adaptation gap definitions
The adaptation gap can be defined generically as the difference between the level of adaptation actually
implemented and a societally set target or goal, which reflects nationally determined needs related to climate
change impacts, as well as resource limitations and competing priorities.
The adaptation finance gap can then be defined and measured as the difference between the costs of, and
the finance required for, meeting a given adaptation target and the amount of finance available to do so.
Assessment of the adaptation finance gap is facilitated by the availability of a common monetary metric.
However, it must be noted that finance is a means rather than an end – availability of funds does not guarantee
that they are used efficiently and effectively to increase climate resilience and reduce vulnerability.
Source: UNEP (2015)
The Adaptation Finance Gap Report 3
KEY FINDINGS FROM 2014
The first Adaptation Gap Report (UNEP 2014) reviewed the evidence base on the costs of adaptation, collating and
comparing the results of global and national studies, and found that a major adaptation finance gap is likely. The analysis
considered the existing evidence base of national and sector studies, and used this to provide an initial assessment of
the possible aggregated global costs of adaptation. The review concluded that existing estimates of the global costs of
adaptation of US$70 billion to US$100 billion per year globally for the period up to 20502 were likely to be a significant
underestimate. It indicated that the costs of adaptation could be two-to three times higher than this by 2030, and
plausibly four-to-five times higher by 2050. The review also reported that future adaptation costs would not be equally
distributed, with the least-developed countries (LDCs) and small-island developing states (SIDS) concluded to have much
higher (relative) adaptation needs, highlighting the priority for adaptation in these regions.
In regards to finance, the 2014 Adaptation Gap Report found that the amount of public finance committed to adaptation
objectives was within the range of US$23-26 billion in 2012-2013, with 90 per cent of flows invested in developing
countries. Official development assistance (ODA), climate funds, and commitments from development finance
institutions (DFIs) accounted for the majority of expenditures, with the 2014 report finding evidence of increased financial
commitments for adaptation across all sources of finance, with adaptation finance being increasingly mainstreamed into
development cooperation activities.
2 The World Bank EACC study estimated the costs of planned adaptation at US$70 billion to US$100 billion a year in the period 2010–2050 for
developing countries (World Bank 2010). This study was cited in the IPCC 5th Assessment Report (Chambwera et al. 2014), although the IPCC report
noted there was little confidence in these numbers, and that there was strong evidence of important omissions and shortcomings in data and
methods, rendering these estimates highly preliminary.
1.2 ADAPTATION FINANCE IN
INTERNATIONAL CLIMATE NEGOTIATIONS
The Paris Agreement, capturing the outcomes of the 2015
CoP21, includes several provisions to advance adaptation,
of which three are particularly important and relevant to
this report: the adoption of a global goal on adaptation,
the commitment to increase UNFCCC developed country-
party funding flowing to developing country parties, and
the requirement on parties to draw up and regularly update
adaptation plans and strategies.
In Article 7.1, the Paris Agreement states that, “Parties hereby
establish the global goal on adaptation of enhancing
adaptive capacity, strengthening resilience and reducing
vulnerability to climate change, with a view to contributing
to sustainable development and ensuring an adequate
adaptation response in the context of the temperature goal
referred to in Article 2” (UNFCCC 2015). While the goal does
not represent an operational tool through which progress
can be tracked in quantitative terms, agreement by parties
to adopt such a goal signifies the increased attention to
adaptation in international climate change negotiations.
Not least, the explicit reference to the temperature goal
underscores that the efforts required to adapt to climate
change are dependent on the extent and timing of climate
change mitigation efforts.
The Paris Agreement also restates the 2020 commitment
by developed country parties of mobilising US$100 billion
per year until 2025, and requires these parties to increase
that commitment after 2025. In what constituted an
unprecedented provision in international climate change
negotiations, Article 9.4 of the Agreement calls for a
balance between adaptation and mitigation finance and
support, thus responding to a longstanding demand from
developing country parties. Notwithstanding, the split
between adaptation and mitigation is not specified, in
spite of demands by some developing country parties. The
Agreement further recognises the need for public and grant-
based resources for climate change adaptation, in particular
with regard to least-developed countries and small-island
developing states.
In addition, the Paris Agreement calls on parties to the
UNFCCC to “engage in adaptation planning processes
and the implementation of actions” (UNFCCC 2015,
Article 7.9), as well as to report on progress every five
years (UNFCCC 2015, Article 7.10). Recognising that the
methodologies needed to underpin adaptation planning
and implementation are poorly developed, the Paris
Agreement includes a range of provisions concerning
4 Chapter 1 | Introduction
methodology development. Similarly, acknowledging
that most developing country parties are likely to require
external assistance to conduct this work, the Agreement
calls for support to these parties. In addition to fostering
adaptation efforts at the national level, national reports are
intended to underpin a global-level stocktake of progress
toward meeting the aforementioned adaptation goal, a
process that will also run in five-year cycles.
Intended Nationally Determined Contributions
In the lead-up to CoP21, parties to the UNFCCC
prepared intended nationally determined
contributions (INDCs), wherein countries publicly
outline the post-2020 climate actions and agendas
they plan to implement under a new international
climate agreement. The majority of INDCs with a strong
focus on adaptation came from developing country
parties, and underlined the party’s key needs in relation
to adaptation to climate change. These overviews
highlighted that (i) financing is a key concern for all
developing country parties, particularly in regards to
cost estimations and identifying sources of finance,
and (ii) consistent methodologies and metrics around
adaptation costs and finance are needed to gauge
progress toward adaptation (UNEP 2015). After the Paris
Agreement enters into force in 2016, INDCs become
nationally determined contributions (NDCs). As such,
this report refers to NDCs throughout.
Photo: © Asian Development Bank
The Adaptation Finance Gap Report 5
1.3 KEY CONCEPTS UNDERLYING THE
ADAPTATION FINANCE GAP ASSESSMENT
This report seeks to assess the evidence regarding estimates
of both the costs of, and financing available for, adaptation
to climate change. The assessment is undertaken to explore
the potential implications for current and future adaptation
finance gaps, defined and measured as the difference
between the costs of meeting a given adaptation target and
the amount of finance available to do so at a given point in
time. The adaptation finance gap is one dimension of the
overall adaptation gap, that is, the difference between the
level of adaption required to reach a specific adaptation goal
and the level of adaptation actually implemented.
An important point to bear in mind throughout this report
is that in general, countries, cities and communities are
not adequately adapted to existing climate risks. In other
words, there is an existing adaptation gap. In the literature,
this existing gap is often referred to as an adaptation deficit
(see for example Burton 2004). There is broad recognition
that this existing adaptation gap (or deficit) is a subset of
a larger development gap (or deficit). As noted in UNEP’s
preliminary Adaptation Gap Report (UNEP 2014), delays in
both adaptation and mitigation action are likely to increase
the development gap (IPCC 2014), thereby adding to the
adaptation gap. To build future adaptive capacity and lower
the costs of adaptation in the future, it is important to reduce
the existing adaptation gap.
Future climate change will lead to wide ranging economic
costs in market and non-market sectors. Adaptation can
moderate these impacts. The benefits of adaptation are
the reduction in these future climate impacts (the avoided
damage cost), which can be compared to the costs of
planning, facilitating, and implementing adaptation (the
costs of adaptation). However, there is a further trade-
off with the impacts (and costs) of climate change after
adaptation, that is, the residual damage. The costs of
adaptation can be estimated for different aggregation levels
and using different frameworks, objectives and methods. In
this report, which is focused around the national to global
domain, two main lines of evidence are used. Firstly, global
estimates are provided. These are provided by global studies
and models which operate at an aggregated scale, and are
referred to in this report as top-down studies. Secondly,
national and sectoral estimates are provided, which include
more detailed assessments and are referred to in this report
as bottom-up studies. Both approaches have strengths and
weaknesses and the adaptation gap assessment combines
the evidence from both to provide a more comprehensive
and robust analysis.
Adaptation has been defined as “the process of adjustment
to actual or expected climate and its effects” (IPCC, 2014).
Adjustment can take two main forms: interventions that
seek to exploit beneficial opportunities brought about by
climate change and interventions that seek to avoid the
harm resulting from it. Those interventions, which typically
face trade-offs with other policy objectives, are undertaken
by both public and private sector agents (Chambwera et
al. 2014).
Partially reflecting the aforementioned definition of
adaptation that distinguishes between responses to actual
and expected climate impacts, it is common to distinguish
between reactive adaptation (taking place after impacts of
climate change are observed) and anticipatory adaptation
(taking place before impacts of climate change are
observed), as well as between autonomous and planned
adaptation. Autonomous adaptation can be defined as
“adaptation that does not constitute a conscious response
to climatic stimuli but is triggered by ecological changes
in natural systems and by market or welfare changes in
human systems (IPCC 2014). Autonomous adaptation is
typically used to describe actions by households, businesses
or communities acting on their own without public
intervention, but within an existing public policy framework.
Actions by these actors are also sometimes referred to as
private adaptation, and usually reflect the actor’s self-interest.
In contrast, planned adaptation results from deliberate
policy decisions aimed at returning, maintaining or elevating
resilience conditions to a desired state, and is mostly used
to describe public adaptation. Public adaptation is usually
directed at collective, societal needs.
Much of the literature on adaptation costs and available
data for adaptation financing focuses on planned public
adaptation and omits autonomous and private adaptation.
Including autonomous and private adaptation in the analysis
of the costs of adaptation will increase cost estimates,
potentially significantly.
Adaptation finance can take one of four forms: international
public finance, public domestic finance, private international
finance, or private domestic finance. This report reports
primarily on financing for international public planned
adaptation, as defined above. The public sector is the
main funder of such activities, channelling domestic and
international budgets into a wide range of projects aimed
at increasing resilience to climate change. International
budgets are earmarked, as they follow certain rules aimed
at facilitating the tracking of such financing. Conversely,
domestic budgets are typically managed by line ministries
and are seldom earmarked as supporting adaptation to
climate change. For this reason, while data concerning
international public finance is relatively complete, data on
domestic budgets is limited.
6 Chapter 1 | Introduction
Engaging the private sector in financing adaptation, both
nationally and internationally, involves a wide range of
private, as well as public, actors. These include businesses
(both domestic and international, in all sectors), private
finance institutions, and ultimately, those who provide the
source of the investment capital in the first place (including
household savings, as well as major institutional investors
such as pension funds) and insurance companies. On
the public side, relevant actors include public institutions
(notably development cooperation agencies and finance
institutions), who source private capital and provide public
revenue towards catalysing private investment, and blend
private and public finance. It also includes governments, who
in addition to finance, can also utilize policy and regulation to
create enabling conditions for private investment.
Finance versus expenditure
The term finance is generally used to refer to both
the allocation of investment capital, and the way
such capital is mobilised and delivered. Through
intermediary institutions, investment capital is made
available as finance to different public and private
actors in need of funding for expenditure. Expenditure
refers to the ultimate payment of costs for goods and
services (such as infrastructure, technology, equipment,
information and knowledge, labour and finance itself),
including in-kind or non-monetary contributions.
Without finance, even expenditure that yields a
positive economic return may not be possible due to,
for instance, the way costs (or risks) are concentrated or
distributed over time or in the market.
1.4 STRUCTURE OF THE REPORT
The report consists of four additional chapters, covering the
following issues:
Chapter 2 includes an overview of estimates of the
costs of adaptation. This overview seeks to contrast
bottom-up estimates (national-level studies) with top-
down estimates (global-level studies) of varying scope,
to provide an estimate of the costs of adaptation at the
global level.
Chapter 3 provides a summary of current finance levels,
broken down by source, use and role. In addition, the
chapter reports on progress with tracking adaptation
finance.
Chapter 4 focuses on private sector financing,
highlighting trends in private finance and expenditure,
as well as barriers to the scale up of these trends.
The chapter reports on financial and non-financial
mechanisms that can be used to increase the level of
financing for adaptation.
Chapter 5 provides a preliminary estimate of the
adaptation finance gap. It concludes by exploring how
the findings in the report may support international
climate change negotiations. Special attention is paid
to the way in which the adaptation gap concept can
support implementation of the Paris Agreement.
The report has been written by 12 lead authors, supported
by 13 contributing authors, affiliated to 15 organisations. An
advanced draft of the report was reviewed by 31 individuals,
working on all continents.
The Adaptation Finance Gap Report 7
Photo: © Caroline Schaer (UNEP DTU Partnership)
The Adaptation Finance Gap Report 7
8 Chapter 2 | The costs of adaptation
02
The Adaptation Finance Gap Report 9
CHAPTER 2
THE COSTS OF
ADAPTATION
LEAD AUTHORS
PAUL WATKISS PAUL WATKISS ASSOCIATES, FLORENT
BAARSCH CLIMATE ANALYTICS, NICK KINGSMILL
VIVID ECONOMICS
CONTRIBUTING AUTHORS (alphabetical)
FRANCESCO BOSELLO FONDAZIONE ENI ENRICO
MATTEI, FEDERICA CIMATO PAUL WATKISS
ASSOCIATES, KELLY DE BRUIN UMEÅ UNIVERSITY,
ENRICA DE CIAN FONDAZIONE ENI ENRICO MATTEI
Photo: © Stuart Price (AMISOM)
10 Chapter 2 | The costs of adaptation
2.1 INTRODUCTION
The Fifth Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate Change (IPCC) reported global estimates of the
costs of adaptation in developing countries of between
US$70 billion and US$100 billion per year for the period
Figure 2.1: Indicative adaptation costs
World Bank (2010)
Adaptation costs per year for developing countries in billion US$
UNEP (2014)
Global aggregated sector impact assessment
Indicative
level of
costs
based on
synthesis of
bottom-up
studies
Indicative
level of
costs
based on
synthesis of
bottom-up
studies
2010 2030 2050
0
100
200
300
400
600
500
KEY FINDINGS
Estimates of the costs of adaptation vary strongly, depending on the methodology used, the analytical principles
applied, and the assumptions made. These choices involve complex and often subjective issues and, as such, there
are different views on them. Therefore, there is no single estimate of the costs of adaptation.
Previous estimates of the costs of adaptation in developing countries are likely to be underestimates. A review of the
literature on national- and sector-level studies reinforces the findings presented in the 2014 Adaptation Gap Report:
by 2030, the costs of adaptation could be two-to-three times higher than the range cited in the literature and four-to-
five times higher by 2050.
In light of limited financing and uncertainties about future impacts, developing country adaptation actions are
placing heightened emphasis on early adaptation actions, low-regrets options, options that build-in flexibility and
robustness for longer-term decisions, and early planning for likely major future risks.
The Adaptation Finance Gap Report 11
between 2010 and 2050 (IPCC 2014). These estimates are
largely based on a 2010 study by the World Bank (World Bank
2010). The IPCC report notes that there is low confidence in
these estimates due to methodological challenges and data
shortcomings.
Over recent years, the number of national- and sector-
level assessments on the costs of adaptation has increased
significantly. These assessments, which were reviewed in
the 2014 Adaptation Gap Report, show that the World Bank
estimates are likely to underestimate the costs of adaptation
in developing countries. Compared to the 2014 Adaptation
Gap Report, this chapter presents additional information
on national- and sector-level assessments. The information
summarised in the chapter represents the most up-to-date
and scientifically robust evidence available on the costs of
adaptation in developing countries.
The chapter is structured around four sections in addition
to this introduction. Section 2.2 offers a brief summary of
global-level studies on the costs of adaptation. Section
2.3 provides a critical review of the national- and sector-
level studies mentioned above. Section 2.4 examines the
assumptions and choices that affect this kind of assessment,
putting cost estimates in context. Section 2.5 outlines how
adaptation planning and implementation in developing
countries is evolving, not least in light of limited finance and
uncertainty about future impacts (and the costs associated
with reducing those impacts).
2.2 GLOBAL LEVEL ESTIMATES OF THE
COSTS OF ADAPTATION IN DEVELOPING
COUNTRIES
Since the mid-2000s, a number of different approaches, often
termed top-down approaches, have been used to estimate
the costs of adapting to climate change at the global level.
These include investment and financial flow assessments,
aggregated sectoral impact assessments, and integrated
assessment modelling. Each approach is briefly outlined in
this section. More recently, some experts have argued that
approaches based on alternative and more advanced models,
such as dynamic stochastic computable general equilibrium
models and agent-based models, should play an increasing
role in estimating the costs of adaptation (Stern 2016).
The earliest widely-cited estimate of the costs of adaptation is
based on a study sponsored by the United Nations Framework
Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC 2007). The study was
based on an investment and nancial ow assessment
approach that increased investment needs by a certain
amount, depending on the perceived adaptation requirements.
The study focused on the agriculture, forestry and fishery, water
supply, human health, coastal, and infrastructure sectors. It
ultimately suggested overall adaptation costs of US$48 billion
to US$171 billion per year by 2030, of which between half and
two-thirds would be borne in developing countries. A 2009
critique of this work highlighted a number of shortcomings of
its approach – notably in relation to the adaptation deficit and
the initial investment levels needed. This critique suggested
that, due to limited coverage of sectors and risks, the study may
have underestimated the costs of adaptation by a factor of two-
to-three (Parry et al. 2009).
In 2010, the World Bank published a study that followed
a global scenario-based aggregated sectoral impact
assessment approach (World Bank 2010). As highlighted
in the introduction to this chapter, the study suggested that
adaptation in developing countries may cost between US$70
billion and US$100 billion per year for the period between
2010 and 2050. The study covered the following sectors,
albeit with only partial coverage within them: agriculture,
forestry, fisheries, infrastructure, water resources, health,
coastal areas, and extreme weather events. Furthermore, the
study concluded that (i) the East Asia and Pacific region is
likely to bear the highest overall costs, but the sub-Saharan
Africa region would bear the highest costs per unit of gross
domestic product (GDP); and (ii) the highest absolute costs
would be borne by middle-income countries, but low-
income countries would experience the highest costs per
unit of GDP.
The sectoral coverage in these studies is partial, as is the
coverage of risks within the targeted sectors. In addition, the
studies use different approaches: some assess the optimal
level of adaptation (trading-off adaptation against residual
damages), while others quantify the costs associated with
identified needs. The studies also represent adaptation
in different ways and with varying levels of sectoral and
technical detail. The following sections provide more detail
on these and other aspects that explain why estimates of
adaptation costs differ between studies.
Integrated assessment models take a different approach.
They were developed to explore the costs of both mitigating
greenhouse-gas emissions and adapting to future climate
change impacts (Nordhaus and Boyer 1999, Plambeck et
al. 1997). These models estimate the global and regional
12 Chapter 2 | The costs of adaptation
impacts of climate change, and then extend the analysis
to the costs and benefits of adaptation. They do this by
connecting long-term economic development trajectories
to a temperature pathway, the societal impacts of which are
calculated through a mathematical function that is meant to
characterise the average magnitude of those impacts.
Typically, integrated assessment models either aim to identify
an optimal balance of mitigation, adaptation, and residual
damages, or they seek to determine the most cost-effective
way of adapting to a set mitigation target. A number of
scientific reports and peer-reviewed publications have used
integrated assessment models to estimate the future costs of
adaptation. In 2009, the OECD used AD-RICE and AD-WITCH
to examine the economics of adaptation to climate change.
Specifically, this work sought to estimate total climate
change costs, including mitigation, residual damages, and
adaptation (de Bruin et al. 2009). A subsequent OECD study
estimated adaptation costs in developed and developing
countries (Agrawala et al. 2011a).
Studies of adaptation costs based on integrated assessment
models typically find that adaptation is a highly effective
response to climate change, with high benefits relative to
costs. Furthermore, these studies provide insights into how
adaptation costs may vary under different climate change
scenarios. They indicate that even in the period between
2030 and 2050, adaptation costs could vary considerably
between a 2°C warming scenario and higher warming
scenarios.
However, these models currently provide a very wide range
of estimates of adaptation costs. The outputs of two major
models, AD-RICE and AD-WITCH, are presented in the
Appendix available online, where the reasons for the wide
divergence in model estimates are discussed.
In the future, one can expect these estimates to converge to
some extent across the models, as parameter values become
better determined empirically, and as the relationship
between greenhouse-gas emissions, impacts and the
effectiveness of adaptation become more firmly based on
evidence. For the present, however, estimates of costs of
adaptation have to rely mainly on bottom-up national studies
and sectoral studies looking at specific types of impacts.
2.3 NATIONAL AND SECTOR ESTIMATES OF
THE COSTS OF ADAPTATION IN DEVELOPING
COUNTRIES
Most of the information base on the costs of adaptation
at the national level has emerged from a small number of
multi-country initiatives (Table 2.1).3 A growing number
of individual-country or sector studies complement this
3 The evidence presented in this section draws mostly on the ECON-
ADAPT project and its review work, funded by the European Union’s
Seventh Framework Programme for Research, Technological Devel-
opment and Demonstration, under grant agreement nr. 603906.
information base. Not least, several NDCs include estimates
of the costs of adaptation (Chapter 1) (UNEP 2015).
The various initiatives – and even the studies within them –
are highly heterogeneous, which makes direct comparison
difficult, and precludes a simple aggregation of these
country-level studies into a global estimate for developing
countries. The Appendix provides additional background on,
and details about, the findings presented in the remainder of
this section.
Acronym Name of the study Commissioner and reference
IFF Assessment of investment and financial flows to
address climate change
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP
2011)
EACC Economics of adaptation to climate change –
country studies
World Bank (World Bank 2010)
NEEDS National economic, environment and
development study
United Nations Framework Convention on
Climate Change (UNFCCC 2010)
RECCS Regional economics of climate change Multiple organisations and references
Table 2.1: Multi-country studies on national adaptation costs in developing countries
The Adaptation Finance Gap Report 13
2.3.1 NATIONAL STUDIES
The IFF studies cover fifteen countries, and analyse one or
two sectors in each country. The overall cost estimate is
US$5.6 billion in 2020, US$6.3 billion in 2025, and US$7.1
billion in 2030. For the agriculture sector alone, the combined
cost estimate for twelve countries is US$2.8 billion in 2020,
US$3.5 billion in 2025, and US$6.0 billion in 2030.
The EACC national studies cover seven countries and use the
general impact-assessment framework applied in the same
project to obtain a global estimate for developing countries.
Nonetheless, national cost estimates are higher than the
global estimate. For some countries, national cost estimates
were ten-to-twenty per cent higher, mostly due to the
consideration of socially contingent impacts. For countries
like Ethiopia and Ghana, national estimates were higher still.
The national studies also demonstrated that cost estimates
rise strongly when a global warming scenario above 2°C
is considered (for example, in the study for Mozambique,
much higher costs were reported when high sea-level rise
scenarios were considered).
The NEEDS project covered eight countries and assessed the
short- and mid-term costs of adaptation based on financing
needs. Although the various studies used different methods
and targets over different time periods, they all consistently
reported high estimates of the costs of adaptation. This is
mainly due to the use of the needs-assessment approach.
To date, a further twenty-five individual national assessments
or studies have been conducted.4 While most of these use
impact-assessment approaches, comparing and synthesising
estimates is challenging. What is interesting is that, for
some countries, several independent studies have been
conducted, which allows for cross-comparison. Examples of
such countries are Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Ghana and India.
In these countries, differences in adaptation costs between
studies can vary by a factor of two-to-five.
2.3.2 SECTOR STUDIES
Previous reviews have assessed sector-specific studies of the
costs of adaptation (IPCC 2014, OECD 2008). These reviews
highlight that most studies focus on the coastal areas and
agriculture sectors and, to a lesser extent, on the energy
and infrastructure sectors. The recent European Union-
funded ECONADAPT project has reviewed the state of this
literature (ECONADAPT 2015). The ECONADAPT findings
are summarised here, and presented in more detail in the
Appendix.
4 Details about these are included in the Appendix.
COASTAL AREAS
The most comprehensive estimates of the costs of
adaptation are for the coastal areas sector, primarily with
respect to the risks of sea-level rise and storm surges on
flooding and erosion. These estimates have been produced
as part of global impact-assessment studies, often using
the DIVA model.5 Most of the global and national studies
mentioned above also rely on this model.
The DIVA model has been used to estimate global annual
investment and maintenance costs of protecting coasts
up until 2100. The most recent estimates range from
between US$12-31 billion to US$27-71 billion for low-and
high-warming scenarios respectively (Hinkel et al. 2014).
The additional adaptation costs associated with coastal
erosion (beach and shore nourishment) are estimated at a
further US$1.4-5.3 billion per year across low, mid and high
scenarios (Hinkel et al. 2013). However, these results need to
be considered in light of the discussion above: the studies
assume modest protection levels, use an impact-assessment
framework, and omit several risks related to the coastal and
marine environment.
The case of coastal cities, which often require engineered
protection, deserves particular attention. A global analysis of
136 coastal cities reported indicative annual adaptation costs
of US$350 million per city, or approximately US$50 billion
annually in total (Hallegatte et al. 2013). The coastal sector
is also leading the application of new approaches based
on iterative risk management and decision making under
uncertainty (ECONADAPT 2015).
WATER MANAGEMENT
A growing number of studies analyse the risks of more
frequent and/or intense floods, and changes to the water
supply-demand balance, including potential water deficits,
and the costs of adapting. Over recent years, there has
been a focus towards national and even basin-level studies.
These allow the use of more detailed hydrological models,
which can be linked to probability-loss functions or depth-
damage functions. More recent assessments also focus on
low-regret adaptation options and non-technical options
as complements to hard engineering, with early-warning
systems and, increasingly, ecosystem-based approaches.
As with floods and changes in the water supply-demand
balance, studies targeting water management and water
demand are growing in number and tend to be national
in scope. These often extend to risks that global studies
typically omit, such as the costs of adapting wastewater and
5 The DIVA model is an integrated research model of coastal systems
that assesses biophysical and socio-economic consequences of
sea-level rise and socio-economic development, taking into account
coastal erosion, coastal flooding, wetland change, and salinity
intrusion into deltas and estuaries, as well as adaptation in terms
of raising dikes and nourishing shores and beaches. A complete
description is available online at: http://www.diva-model.net/
14 Chapter 2 | The costs of adaptation
storm-water infrastructure, which can be high, or the costs
associated with adaptation in hydro-electricity plants.
AGRICULTURE
The costs of adaptation in the agriculture sector, especially
in developing countries, have been receiving increased
attention. Both impact-assessment (crop modelling), and
investment and financial flow studies are available, although
these produce very different estimates, especially when the
effects of trade are included. The most recent studies give
greater consideration to early adaptation options, and focus
on climate-smart agriculture (sustainable soil and water
management practices).
HEAT IN THE CONTEXT OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
A growing number of studies focus on heat, primarily in the
urban environment. This risk cascades throughout multiple
sectors: from the built environment (buildings), to energy
use, and even human health. There are some studies of
the potential increase in cooling demand and associated
economic costs (increased air conditioning) under warmer
climates (noting there are also other studies looking at the
reduction in heating demand in cooler climates). Demand
for cooling is expected to rise most strongly in South Asia,
due to a combination of pre-existing high temperatures,
increased warming and rising incomes. In India, for example,
annual costs associated with additional demand for cooling
could range between US$25 billion and US$100 billion
by mid-century, for low- and high-warming scenarios,
respectively (Mima et al. 2011). In addition, there are studies
that look at the costs of alternatives to air conditioning,
through passive systems, or building or spatial planning
options. While these alternatives offer potential, they do
require planned adaptation initiatives.
In OECD countries a recent focus has been on heat-alert
health systems to address the potential risks of heat
related mortality (especially from heat-waves). Such studies
show that heat-alert systems are low-cost, high-benefit
interventions; although with high warming, additional
measures are needed to reduce residual risks.
SUMMING UP
In summary, the number of estimates of the costs (and
benefits) of adaptation are growing. The literature reports
increasing numbers of studies for coastal areas, water
management, agriculture and the built environment, with
additional studies in other areas. However, a concern is the
lack of studies focused on the costs of adaptation in sectors
such as ecosystems, or industry and services. Moreover, even
in sectors where coverage is good, the full range of climate
risks and adaptation options is partial, and the number
of policy-orientated studies – which include practical
application and implementation costs – is low.
Finally, more recent studies are considering the issue of
uncertainty by using iterative climate risk management. This
reflects a shift in the thinking around how to plan adaptation
with uncertainty in mind, and such studies use a different
analytical framework and provide a wider set of adaptation
options, compared to early, technical and academic studies.
What is clear from all these studies is that adaptation has
the potential to be extremely beneficial and cost-effective
when planned with uncertainty and implementation in mind
(Section 2.4).
2.4 WHY COST ESTIMATES DIFFER
A number of factors influence the size of adaptation
cost estimates. These factors are summarised below, to
contextualise the estimates given in the previous section,
and the reasons why they can differ substantially. Additional
details are included in the Appendix.
2.4.1 COVERAGE
The costs of adaptation clearly depend on the coverage of
sectors and risks. Studies with greater coverage will produce
higher estimates, as they include a larger number of impacts.
Comprehensive studies at the national level (for example,
Ramsbottom et al. 2012) identify several hundred potential
risks and opportunities from climate change. Nonetheless,
most quantitative studies focus on a subset of the most
important of these, mainly due to the complexity associated
with quantifying and monetising impacts.
Existing estimates capture most of the key sectors, but not all.
For example, biodiversity and ecosystem services are omitted
and as a result, existing estimates understate the costs of
adaptation.
The number and type of risks covered is a further issue. For
example, studies focused on the agriculture sector tend to
omit cash crops, horticulture and viniculture, and risks from
changing pests and disease. Similarly, analyses of coastal
zone risks typically cover coastal erosion and flooding, but
neglect ocean acidification. The extent to which these
omissions underestimate costs is difficult to ascertain.
Previous critiques of the existing literature of global studies
The Adaptation Finance Gap Report 15
have suggested a factor of two-to-three for the sectors
considered (Parry et al. 2009):
We conclude that for coastal protection the factor of under-
estimation could be 2 to 3. For infrastructure it may be several
times higher, at the lower end of the cost range. For health
the ‘intervention sets’ that were costed related to a disease
burden that is approximately 30-50% of the anticipated total
burden in low- and middle-income countries (and do not
include interventions in high-income countries). Including
ecosystems protection could add a further $65-$300 billion
per year in costs. Furthermore, estimates are not made for
sectors such as mining and manufacturing, energy, the retail
and financial sectors and tourism.
However, there are two additional issues. Firstly, direct climate
change can often lead to indirect climate change impacts,
which can amplify costs, especially when these lead to
competition or constraints (such as with multiple demands
for water). These may also include wider economic effects,
although trade and market responses can often reduce cost
increases.
The second issue relates to autonomous adaptation, as
defined in Chapter 1. Most of the literature focuses on
planned adaptation and omits autonomous adaptation.
Examples of the latter include farm-level adaptation,
the additional household energy costs associated with
cooling, or adaptation action by the private sector.
Including autonomous adaptation in the analysis of the
costs of adaptation will increase cost estimates, potentially
significantly.
2.4.2 OBJECTIVES AND QUANTIFICATION
METHODS
Estimates of the costs of adaptation are influenced by the
target, goal or objective chosen, as well as the degree of
trade-off between the impacts of climate change, the costs
of adaptation, and the residual costs after adaptation. Some
studies may set objectives based on economic efficiency
(that is, the optimal balance between costs, benefits and
residual damages), while others may use levels of acceptable
risk, which include a stronger consideration of equity (that
is, setting a common protection level above which society
considers risks unacceptable). These decisions entail careful
consideration and interpretation of global equity concerns
and international law provisions, especially when they
apply to impacts in developing countries (due to their low
responsibility for emissions, but high risks of impacts). These
are contentious issues, on which views differ.
The available literature suggests that the choice of objective
can lead to a factor of two-to-four difference in cost
estimates. In terms of objectives, studies that adopt optimal
frameworks produce lower cost estimates, compared to
studies that use alternative methods (for example, using
acceptable risks).
2.4.3 TIME-SCALES, AND FUTURE
GREENHOUSE-GAS EMISSION PATHWAYS
The extent to which greenhouse-gas emissions will be
mitigated in the future is unknown. The more emissions
Photo: © Amir Jina
16 Chapter 2 | The costs of adaptation
are reduced, the less adaptation will be required. Therefore,
estimates of the cost of adaptation differ with the
assumptions made about future levels of greenhouse-gas
emissions. Estimates are higher, even in early years, for higher
scenarios of global warming. In addition, estimates of costs
will differ with the assumptions made about future trends in
socio-economic development. Socio-economic development
can reduce future adaptation costs (for example, in situations
where current vulnerabilities are reduced and/or adaptive
capacities are increased), but it can also increase those costs
(for example, as a result of poor planning, or as a consequence
of rising asset prices). Similarly, adaptation costs vary strongly
with expected economic growth.
2.4.4 UNCERTAINTY
Large uncertainties surround assumptions about the future
emissions pathway the world is on – that is, a 2°C or 4°C
world. Additional uncertainty arises due to the differences in
the outputs of climate models. New approaches are being
developed which allow decision-makers to factor these
uncertainties into their planning, notably with iterative
climate risk management, which encourages early, low-
regret options, robustness, flexibility and learning. Instead
of focusing on one (or a small number of) possible future
projections, and suggesting adaptation strategies that are
optimised for those conditions, newer approaches consider a
range of plausible future conditions and propose adaptation
strategies that can learn and evolve over time. Studies that
include the consideration of uncertainty generally have
higher costs when compared to studies that ignore it and
implement optimal strategies, noting that in practice, the
latter will lead to higher costs through maladaptation.
2.4.5 LIMITS OF ADAPTATION
Current estimates of the costs of adaptation assume that
adaptation will be unconstrained. They further assume that,
in terms of unit costs, adaptation will be similar for low and
high global warming scenarios. In practice, however, there
will be limits to adaptation (Klein et al. 2014), determined by
physical and ecological constraints, technological limitations,
information and cognitive barriers, and social and cultural
barriers. Including these limits in estimates of the costs of
adaptation will result in higher values. Not enough evidence
is available to determine the extent of the increase, though it
could be large.
2.4.6 AGGREGATION
Some studies analyse potential impacts and benefits from
climate change, and aggregate the two (reading off residual
damages against benefits). Such an approach is misleading,
because it assumes that transfers will occur between those
impacted by, and those benefiting from, climate change, which is
very unlikely to take place in practice. For this reason, studies that
allow aggregation are likely to report lower costs of adaptation.
2.4.7 ADAPTATION DEFICIT
The costs of adapting to climate change are determined
by the size of the existing adaptation gap – that is, the
difference between the costs of adaptation and the financing
available to meet them at a given point in time. The costs
of bridging this gap may not be considered adaptation,
because they overlap to a great extent with developmental
activities. However, unless this deficit is overcome first,
adaptation will be less effective (Burton 2004). It follows that
the estimates from studies that ignore the adaptation deficit
are over-optimistic.
2.4.8 ADDITIONAL COST CATEGORIES
AND SOFT VERSUS HARD ADAPTATION
Most current studies focus on the technical (engineering)
costs of delivering adaptation and overlook opportunity and
transaction costs. As a result, the estimates from technical
studies are low. This mirrors a similar finding in the climate
change mitigation domain, where ex-post cost outcomes
were found to be higher than implied by technical (ex-ante)
cost curves.
However, alternatives to more costly technical adaptation
technologies are available. These include non-technological
options that may offer wider co-benefits (Agrawala et al.
2011b). They can also include alternative strategies, such
as insurance (risk pooling), which can reduce the costs
of adaptation. While these alterative adaptation options
are often low-cost, implementing them requires certain
institutional capacity and mechanisms, which also have a cost.
2.4.9 LEARNING, INNOVATION, SCALE
AND THE PRIVATE SECTOR
Costs fall with learning and innovation, and with the scale
of implementation. In many cases, existing costs can
therefore be considered overestimates. However, in areas
such as coastal protection and irrigation, adaptation relies
on existing technological solutions and practices, where
learning and efficiencies of scale have already taken place.
Notwithstanding, more effective and innovative delivery of
adaptation by the private sector would reduce adaptation
costs.
2.4.10 IMPLEMENTATION COSTS
AND EFFECTIVENESS
The actual implementation of adaptation (including
design, management and execution), as well as the
The Adaptation Finance Gap Report 17
Figure 2.2: Changes in adaptation costs and residual impacts
Coverage
of risks
Inclusion of
autonomous
adaptation
Coverage
of sectors
Objectives of
adaptation
Emission
pathways
(>2°C)
Inclusion of
uncertainty
Limits of
adaptation*
Adaptation
decit**
Management,
governance &
eectiveness
Scale, learning
& innovation
Opportunity
& transaction
costs
Non-technical
options
Change in adaptation costs for a given
adaptation target
Indicative change in adaptation costs
Indicative increase
in costs
Indicative reduction
in costs
* Note that while costs will rise as limits of adaptation are considered, above the limit adaptation is not possible,
hence the strong increase in residual costs.
** Costs will be higher if there is a greater adaptation decit. Note that the costs of addressing the adaptation decit
itself will be much larger.
need for monitoring and reporting, all lead to additional
costs that many technical studies ignore. For the least-
developed countries, there are also additional governance
challenges, which will affect the effectiveness of adaptation.
These challenges reduce the benefits, and thus the cost
effectiveness, of adaptation, or else require additional costs
for management agents or intermediaries to ensure effective
delivery.
The latter is important, as many current estimates tend to
assume a high level of transferability (that is, options that
will show similar effectiveness in very different countries
and contexts). However, experience from development
economics suggests that this is not the case: insufficient
maintenance, lack of finance, and a range of behavioural
barriers all reduce effectiveness. As a result, adaptation
benefits are lower than anticipated (and residual damage
levels are higher).
On the basis of the evidence summarised in the previous
paragraphs, Figure 2.2 shows the indicative influence of each
individual component on adaptation costs. In each case, a
broad range is indicated, because the evidence on the scale
of the effect is limited. In practice, the range will vary with
each specific study, as a result of both the choices made and
the approach adopted.
The combined effect of the various factors above has a large
influence on estimates of the costs of adaptation. Indeed,
even small or limited changes in only one component can
change estimates significantly. For example, both the EACC
and UNFCCC studies (Table 2.1) estimated the costs of
adaptation in coastal areas and, to do so, both relied on the
same model. However, changes in assumptions about unit
costs and maintenance costs, and inclusion of port-upgrading
costs, resulted in a five-fold difference in the final estimate.
Furthermore, even when a conservative choice is used in one
area (for example, a strong equity assumption), cost estimates
can still be lower if other choices favour lower-cost outcomes.
Studies that include more practical-based assessments report
higher adaptation costs. This arises because of the inclusion
of implementation costs, but also because these studies tend
to include higher warming scenarios, consider uncertainty,
and set objectives based on existing standards. Further work
to isolate the impact of each individual factor would allow for
comparisons across studies. While in principle this is possible,
it is challenging to do so in practice (Box 2.1).
18 Chapter 2 | The costs of adaptation
2.5 MOVING TOWARD PRACTICE
While the volume of climate finance, as illustrated in the
next chapter, is increasing, it is likely to fall short of potential
needs. For this reason, it will be important to ensure that
available funds have the greatest possible impact. To this
end, and in addition to other goals, such as maximising the
number of beneficiaries, prioritising the most vulnerable,
or delivering the highest value for money, prioritising
adaptation will be of the utmost importance.
Prioritisation of adaptation involves some major challenges,
not least due to the profile of cost and benefits over time,
especially for planned adaptation. In addition, the high level
of uncertainty surrounding adaptation makes choosing the
exact form of intervention difficult, while potential benefits
are highly site- and context-specific.
Reflecting these challenges, in recent years the framing
of adaptation has shifted toward early-implementation
practices (ECONADAPT 2015). Firstly, there has been a
move toward a policy-orientated approach for assessing
adaptation, in which the objectives are framed around key
problems. This adaptation assessment approach contrasts
with traditional science-first, impact-assessment approaches.
Secondly, greater emphasis is being put on integrating
adaptation into current policy and development, rather than
treating adaptation as a stand-alone activity. This process
is often referred to as mainstreaming (integration). Thirdly,
there has been a move to consider the phasing and timing of
adaptation, due to an increasing recognition of uncertainty.
This has translated into different types of adaptation
interventions, addressing current climate variability and
future climate change, undertaken within the framework
of iterative climate risk management and decision-making
under uncertainty.6
As a result, greater emphasis is increasingly being put
on early adaptation actions, low-regret options, capacity
building, and options that build-in flexibility and robustness
for long-term decisions, complemented with early planning
for major future risks (with research, monitoring and
learning). A key implication of this is that there is a need
for studies of the costs of adaptation to focus on the above
aspects, and to provide information that helps prioritise, and
implement, adaptation actions.
6 For further details, the reader is referred to the Appendix.
Box 2.1: Improving estimates of the costs of adaptation
As outlined in the previous paragraphs, a wide range of factors influence estimates of the costs of adaptation.
The following are examples of activities that, if undertaken, would help improve estimates:
More empirical studies, covering sectors or risks that are currently poorly studied.
Sensitivity testing and multi-model analyses, and other methods that can help determine how the choice of
methods and assumptions affects estimates.
Ex-post analyses of existing or early adaptation practices, to learn about opportunity, transaction and
implementation costs.
Analyses of the transferability of options, both between locations and in terms of aggregation of impacts.
Sharing of available information and lessons learnt.
The Adaptation Finance Gap Report 19The Adaptation Finance Gap Report 19
Photo: © Anouk Delafortrie (EC-ECHO)
03
The Adaptation Finance Gap Report 21
CHAPTER 3
ADAPTATION
FINANCE
LEAD AUTHORS
CHIARA TRABACCHI CLIMATE POLICY INITIATIVE,
GISELA CAMPILLO ORGANISATION FOR ECONOMIC
COOPERATION AND DEVELOPMENT, STEPHANIE
OCKENDEN ORGANISATION FOR ECONOMIC CO
OPERATION AND DEVELOPMENT
CONTRIBUTING AUTHORS (alphabetical)
ILARIA GALLO UNITED NATIONS INSTITUTE
FOR TRAINING AND RESEARCH, PRADEEP
KURUKULASURIYA UNITED NATIONS DEVELOPMENT
PROGRAMME, JOANNE MANDA UNITED NATIONS
DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME, ANGUS MACKAY
UNITED NATIONS INSTITUTE FOR TRAINING AND
RESEARCH, MARIANA MIRABILE ORGANISATION FOR
ECONOMIC COOPERATION AND DEVELOPMENT,
CHARLENE WATSON OVERSEAS DEVELOPMENT
INSTITUTE
Photo: © Vicki Francis (DFID)
22 Chapter 3 | Adaptation finance
3.1 INTRODUCTION
Adaptation finance is a central element to the international
response to climate change, as recognised in many decisions
by the CoP to the UNFCCC. Comprehensive and up-to-date
information about finance flows, based on internationally
agreed methodologies, is essential to inform national
adaptation policy, and support investment decisions.
However, at present this information is only partially available.
This chapter synthesises available information on financing
flows for adaptation, while highlighting data gaps. The
remainder of the chapter is structured around two sections: a
description of the quantitative evidence available regarding
adaptation finance, and an overview of opportunities for
scaling-up adaptation finance and improving finance flow
tracking systems.
Furthermore, it is worth recalling that the UNFCCC articulates
its finance commitment (US$100 billion annually by 2020,
to be increased after 2025) without specifying the share that
public or private actors are expected to provide. For this
reason, the estimates presented in this chapter should be
interpreted in a broad sense, rather than simply compared
against the UNFCCC finance commitment (Box 3.1).
Box 3.1: Progress toward meeting the US$100 billion finance commitment
The UNFCCC has called on its developed country parties to provide US$100 billion annually by 2020 for climate
action in developing countries. However, there is no agreement as to the type of funding that shall be mobilised
to meet this goal, and financing is expected to come from “…a wide variety of sources, public and private, bilateral
and multilateral, including alternative sources” (UNFCCC 2010). This uncertainty has hampered efforts to monitor
progress toward meeting the goal, despite recent efforts to improve tracking for climate finance.
A 2015 assessment entitled Climate finance in 2013-14 and the US$100 billion goal by the OECD reported that climate
finance volumes flowing from developed to developing countries that might qualify to meet the US$100 billion
goal amounted to an annual average of US$57 billion in the period between 2013 and 2014 (OECD 2015a). Of
this, about US$9.3 billion was directed to adaptation, and a further US$3.7 billion was directed to dual adaptation-
mitigation projects (OECD 2015a).
Public climate finance provided by donor governments accounts for the majority of the US$9.3 billion. However, it
also incorporates public financial interventions from developed countries that have mobilised private funding for
climate-related projects (OECD 2015a). Of the small fraction of private sector finance that can be tracked today, less
than ten per cent is directed to climate change adaptation.
KEY FINDINGS
In 2014, international public finance for climate change adaptation amounted to at least US$25 billion globally, of
which US$22.5 billion were directed to developing countries. This represents a marginal increase compared to 2013,
but a continued increase since 2010.
A proper measurement, tracking, and reporting system of adaptation investments is indispensable to ensure that
finance is used efficiently and targeted where it is most needed. Progress has been made with regard to harmonising
concepts and accounting practices, as well as understanding the links between public and private finance.
Nonetheless, further improvements are needed, including (i) increasing efforts to further enhance comparability
across different financial flows; and (ii) evaluating the effect of development interventions that, while having a
different primary goal, bring adaptation co-benefits.
The Adaptation Finance Gap Report 23
3.2 AN OVERVIEW OF ADAPTATION FINANCE
LEVELS AND TRENDS
This section presents the most up-to-date estimates of public
financial flows directed to reducing vulnerability to climate
change. This includes activities ranging from information
and knowledge generation, to development of human and
institutional capacities, to planning and implementation of
climate change adaptation actions.7
Beyond certain commitments by national DFIs, no
consistent figures are available documenting public sector
budgets for domestic adaptation action. This is due to
the lack of systematic tracking and difficulties associated
with attributing adaptation functions to national or local
budgets which, while performing those functions, may also
serve other purposes and may have been approved on
developmental grounds.
Similarly, no data are available on private sector financing
for adaptation. This is because investment databases lack
the contextual information needed to identify whether
an investment has any relevance to adaptation. Not
least, while households and corporations do engage in
adaptation activities – most likely as a reaction to observed
impacts, rather than as a forward-looking strategy aimed at
anticipating projected changes – they do not typically label
their actions as adaptation, because they tend to consider
climate risk as part of their broader risk management
processes (Averchenkova et al. 2015).
In short, the estimates presented in this chapter
underestimate the volume of finance flowing to adaptation
by an unknown amount, corresponding to the volumes
of both public financing for domestic adaptation, and
private sector financing for both domestic and international
7 For details on definitions the reader is referred to the following
sources: IDFC-MDBs (2015), IDFC (2014), UNFCCC (2014) and OECD
(2011).
adaptation. The volumes of finance that are tracked, and
presented in the chapter, correspond to commitments by the
following providers of climate finance:
Development finance institutions: multi-lateral, bilateral,
national and sub-national development banks.
Governments and their bilateral aid agencies, as recorded
in the creditor reporting system, administered by the
OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC).8
Dedicated climate change funds.
8 The creditor reporting system inventories adaptation finance flows
from bilateral donors (irrespective of whether or not they are mem-
bers of the OECD’s DAC), multilateral organisations, and specialised
climate change funds. The coverage of climate funds is not compre-
hensive. Additional details are available online at: http://www.oecd.
org/development/stats/rioconventions.htm.
Adaptation Finance in the Paris Agreement
The Paris Agreement contains three provisions that are of particular relevance to adaptation finance. Firstly, the
agreement urges developed countries to “significantly increase adaptation finance from current levels”. Secondly, in an
effort to advance toward an agreed definition of what qualifies as climate finance under the UNFCCC, the Agreement
requested one of the convention’s subsidiary bodies to develop modalities for the accounting of financial resources
provided and mobilised through public interventions. Such an effort is expected to increase the accountability of
financial pledges for climate change. Thirdly, the agreement renews, from the highest level, the political commitment
for a (low-carbon and) climate-resilient economy. In doing so, it strengthens the position of first-mover investors and
financiers, and represents a call to action for laggards.
3.2.1 PUBLIC ADAPTATION FINANCE
FLOWS
Globally, public adaptation finance amounted to between
US$23 billion and US$26 billion in 2014, or US$25 billion
globally on average (Buchner et al. 2015). This accounts for
17 per cent of all public climate finance committed in 2014.
About US$22.5 billion (90 per cent of the total US$25 billion)
was directed to developing countries.
Adaptation finance volumes have been increasing since
2010, the first year for which data are available (Figure 3.1).9
The amount is similar to that of 2013, but still represents an
increase in adaptation-related bilateral development finance.
9 The OECD Rio marker for adaptation was introduced in 2010. Buch-
ner et al. (2011) represents the first attempt at summarising climate
finance flows. Data from multi-lateral development banks was first
collated in 2012.
24 Chapter 3 | Adaptation finance
In 2014, climate change-related ODA accounted for 19 per
cent of overall ODA, increasing from five per cent in 2005. The
share of adaptation-related ODA to overall ODA grew from 7
per cent in 2010 to 10 per cent in 2014.1011
10 We draw primarily on Buchner et al. (2015), which uses a mix of 2013
and 2014 data, depending on data availability at the time the report
was prepared. However, for simplicity, we label the most recent
estimates as 2014, even when some of the figures making up the
aggregated estimate refer to 2013.
11 For additional details, the reader is referred to Buchner et al. (2015),
which contains a full description of the methodology. The meth-
odology relies on the tracking standards and reporting approaches
used by the members of the OECD’s DAC, the group of multi-lateral
banks that report jointly on climate change finance volumes, the
members of the International Development Finance Club, and the
various funds dedicated to climate change.
3.2.2 KEY SOURCES OF INTERNATIONAL
PUBLIC ADAPTATION FINANCE
Multilateral, bilateral, and domestic DFIs provided US$21
billion of the US$25 billion total of adaptation finance for
both developed and developing countries. Direct public
contributions from governments, ministries, and bilateral
agencies made up an additional US$3 billion, whereas
dedicated climate funds provided another US$1 billion (see
Box 3.2) (Buchner et al. 2015). In 2014, adaptation-related
bilateral ODA financing reached US$12.4 billion, with over
two-thirds of this amount having adaptation as a significant
objective (Figure 3.2).12 Most of these sums are invested
directly in projects, as opposed, for example, to sector-
12 This figure includes commitments from bilateral DFIs such as
France’s AFD, Germany’s KfW, and Japan’s JICA. To avoid double
counting, in CPI’s estimates above these commitments are netted
out as tracked under the DFIs category.
Figure 3.1: Global international adaptation-related public finance
CPI Landscape of Climate Finance
Billion US$
4.4
14.1
22.0
24.7 25.0
8.8
Source: Buchner et al. (2015)
0
10
20
30
5
15
25
2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Methodology
The adaptation finance flows documented in this section refer to annual financial commitments made in the latest
available year.10 The estimates presented are drawn from the Climate Policy Initiative’s Global Landscape of Climate
Finance (Buchner et al. 2015), and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) databases.11
The Adaptation Finance Gap Report 25
Figure 3.2: Adaptation-related bilateral ODA of DAC members
Principal
Source: based on OECD (2015b)
Billion US$
Adaptation as a share of total ODA (%)
Significant Adaptation as a share of total ODA
6
4
2
0
8
2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
2.9
2.1
2.9 3.6 3.8
5.9 6.3
7.6
7.8
8.6
6.9% 7.1%
8.8%
%
9.8%
8.7%
0
6
10
14
4
2
8
12
10
8
6
4
2
0
12
budget support. The European Union, France, Germany,
Japan and the United States are the main providers of official
development assistance for climate change adaptation.
It is worth noting that DFIs, bilateral donors and specialised
climate change funds provide financing for activities that
have adaptation co-benefits, even though this is not the
primary goal of these activities. Examples of these are
projects aimed at supporting climate change mitigation,
disaster-risk reduction, or ecosystem-based services.
The trade-offs and synergies between the adaptation
objectives and the primary goal of these activities remain
poorly understood (IPCC 2014), and adaptation co-benefits
derived from financing other development activities remain
unknown. This has implications for current estimations of
international public finance flows for adaptation, as the
inability to capture financing for co-benefits could lead to
underestimation.
3.2.3 KEY INSTRUMENTS CHANNELLING
INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC ADAPTATION
FINANCE
In 2014, for both developed and developing countries, public
actors extended US$18 billion out of a total of US$25 billion
directed to climate change adaptation (in the form of low-
cost loans, including concessional loans, and grants). Market-
rate loans accounted for most of the rest. Table 3.1 gives a
summary of key instruments, by source.
In addition to established instruments, such as loans and
grants, new financing approaches are emerging to channel
international public adaptation finance, as the following two
illustrative examples show:
In 2015, with financing from the Pilot Programme for
Climate Resilience, the European Bank for Reconstruction
Sources Main instrument (share of total)
Official development assistance Grants (66 per cent) and loans (32 per cent)
Bilateral development finance institutions Low-cost loans (80 per cent)
Multi-lateral development finance institutions13 Market-rate loans (84 per cent)
Table 3.1: Adaptation finance sources and instruments
13 Multilateral DFIs often combine their loans with concessional financing, including from dedicated climate change funds.
26 Chapter 3 | Adaptation finance
Box 3.2: Dedicated adaptation funds
Dedicated climate change funds provide finance in the form of grants, loans or other instruments at more
advantageous terms than those provided by commercial lenders or DFIs. This is one of the features that allow
climate change funds to support multi-lateral development banks, as well as other implementing entities, with
regard to breaking down financial and non-financial barriers that deter investment in climate change adaptation.
Adaptation is the focus of six climate change funds (Figure 3.3). At present, the US$1.2 billion Pilot Programme
for Climate Resilience and the almost US$1 billion Least Developed Countries Fund are the largest among these
adaptation-targeted climate funds.14
Source: ODI (2016)
To date, a total of 76 per cent of the resources pledged to adaptation-dedicated funds have been approved for
disbursement (ODI 2016). Disbursement rates vary depending on factors such as (i) time-lags associated with fund
programming procedures, (ii) difficulties in developing project pipelines, and (iii) limited absorptive capacity in
recipient country government agencies.15 Overall, funds’ financial commitments to projects have increased over the
period between 2011 and 2014 (Buchner et al. 2015).
The Green Climate Fund (not pictured in Figure 3.3) entered into operation recently. Given its stated goal of seeking
a balanced allocation of resources between adaptation- and mitigation-focused activities, this fund is expected to
play a significant role in adaptation funding in coming years. In late 2015, the fund approved about US$109 million
for four adaptation projects out of a total of US$168 million in funding—in other words, nearly 65 per cent of total
funding from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) has been approved for adaptation. In February 2016, it set up the
aspirational target of investing US$2.5 billion during 2016 (for both mitigation and/or adaptation projects).16
Concerns have been raised about the need for climate funds to improve the timeliness and completeness of their
reporting. For example, a recent analysis of climate funds found that, of five adaptation-focused funds reviewed,
two had not reported on whether or not they had achieved their expected results, whereas the other three
reported underperformance against their expected results (ODI and HBS 2015).
14 Thus far the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience has focused on integrating adaptation into national development planning, and supporting
business models that promote private sector engagement in adaptation projects. The Least Developed Countries Fund has helped to fund the
preparation of National Adaptation Programmes of Action, among other adaptation projects.
15 Data availability from each fund will also affect the apparent rate at which finance is approved, as funds report on different timescales.
16 Press release available online: http://www.greenclimate.fund/documents/20182/38417/Green_Climate_Fund_approves_first_8_investments.
pdf/679227c6-c037-4b50-9636-fec1cd7e8588
Figure 3.3: Adaptation-dedicated climate funds
Million US$
Number of projects
0
400
800
1200
200
600
1000
Pilot Program
for Climate
Resilience (PPCR)
Least Developed
Countries Fund
(LDCF)
Adaptation
Fund (AF)
Adaptation for
Smallholder
Agriculture Prog.
(ASAP)
Special Climate
Change Fund
(SCCF)
MDG
Achievement
Fund
00
00
400400
800800
12001200
200200
600600
10001000
Source: based on ODI (2016)
Pledged Deposited Approved Number of projects
0
50
100
150
200
250
The Adaptation Finance Gap Report 27
and Development launched a climate resilience financing
facility. The facility works with local financial institutions
to provide adaptation financing worth US$10 million to
Tajik households, businesses and farmers.
In 2014, during its first cycle, the Global Lab for Climate
Finance crowdsourced over thirty innovative adaptation
finance concepts.17 In 2015, three concepts were further
developed. They concern the issuance of water bonds
as a means of managing water infrastructure in water-
stressed regions, and the provision of data and analysis
for improving farmers’ access to finance for climate-smart
agriculture investments, and to increase climate resilience
by facilitating the penetration of insurance.
17 For further details the reader is referred to the Global Lab for Climate
Finance’s website (climatefinancelab.org), and Trabacchi and Mazza
(2015), which presents the Agricultural Supply Chain Adaptation
Facility that the Lab endorsed.
3.2.4 SECTORAL USES AND GEOGRAPHICAL
DISTRIBUTION OF INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC
ADAPTATION FINANCE
In 2014, water and wastewater management projects
attracted about half of the total volume of (tracked)
international public adaptation finance provided that year.
The agriculture and land-use sector followed with an average
of US$3 billion. Water, wastewater and agriculture were
among the most commonly prioritised sectors in the NDCs
prepared by parties to the UNFCCC (UNEP 2015).
In 2014, about 90 per cent of all international public
adaptation finance was allocated to non-OECD countries.
The regions that benefitted the most were East Asia and the
Pacific (46 per cent of the total), sub-Saharan Africa (14 per
cent), Latin America and the Caribbean (12 per cent), and
South Asia (9 per cent). In the same year, the top recipients
of adaptation-related bilateral ODA were India, Myanmar, the
Philippines, and Vietnam.
Photo: © Johannes Carolus
28 Chapter 3 | Adaptation finance
3.3 TRACKING ADAPTATION FINANCE
Over the past ten years, significant progress has been
made in tracking international adaptation finance. Three
achievements deserve particular attention: increased data
comparability, improved data accessibility, and expanded
knowledge on the linkages between public and private
finance.
3.3.1 INCREASED DATA COMPARABILITY
Accounting and reporting methodologies are increasingly
being harmonised, thereby ensuring greater comparability
across data from different institutions. The common
principles for tracking adaptation finance, agreed by a range
of international, regional and national financial institutions,
are central to this endeavour (IDFC-MDB 2015).18 Not least, in
April 2016, the OECD adopted an improved definition of the
Rio Marker for tracking bilateral ODA targeting adaptation.19
This updated version, included in the revised statistical
reporting directives of the OECD DAC, is complemented by a
guidance table, with examples of eligibility criteria for every
sector and detailed guidance on how to use the marker.
3.3.2 IMPROVED DATA ACCESSIBILITY
The creditor reporting system, administered by the OECD’s
DAC, is contributing to improving the accessibility of data
on international adaptation finance.20 The system brings
together data from 24 OECD countries (out of a total of
32 countries), a range of multi-lateral development banks,
and most multi-lateral climate change funds, totalling 17
institutions. In addition, it currently gathers (mitigation and)
adaptation financial flows, and data on official development
flows (non-official development assistance) for eight
countries and the European Union institutions.
3.3.3 EXPANDED KNOWLEDGE ON THE
LINKAGES BETWEEN PUBLIC AND PRIVATE
FINANCE
In an effort to better understand how public funds can
help mobilise private financing for adaptation, a number of
bilateral and multi-lateral DFIs have begun to collect and
18 Complementing this effort, a larger number of financial institutions
have adopted five voluntary principles, with the aim of further inte-
grating climate change concerns into their project portfolios (World
Bank 2015).
19 This definition is aligned with the joint tracking methodology used
by multi-lateral development banks and the International Develop-
ment Finance Club.
20 It is worth noting that, over the years, the system has improved in
terms of data quality and coverage.
report estimates of the amounts of private finance raised
through their operations.21 Drawing on this information,
the OECD and the Climate Policy Initiative are outlining a
methodology for estimating private-sector finance flows
mobilised by developed country, public sector-funded
interventions in developing countries (Brown et al. 2015).
The GCF also looks at private finance mobilised through their
operations.
Notwithstanding the efforts described above, major
impediments stand in the way of comprehensive tracking of
adaptation finance. The close linkages between adaptation
finance and development finance represent one such
impediment: most adaptation actions rarely represent stand-
alone interventions, as they are typically integrated into
broader public or private sector operations. For this reason,
identifying and classifying investments is challenging.22
As noted earlier, very little quantitative information is
available regarding public sector funding for domestic
adaptation, and private sector financing for adaptation.
These data gaps prevent us from obtaining a fuller picture of
adaptation finance flows.
The volume of public sector finance directed to domestic
adaptation measures is unknown, both in developed and
developing countries (see Box 3.3). A series of national
studies highlight that, in developing countries, the share of
the public sector’s budget allocated to adaptation ranges
between nil and 13 per cent (CPEIR 2015).23 These and other
studies show that domestic spending on climate change
tends to be much higher for adaptation than for mitigation
(World Bank 2012, Bird 2014).
Only indirect evidence is available concerning the volume of
private sector financing for adaptation. For example, recent
multi-lateral development-bank investments in support of
private adaptation worth US$270 million made 26 private
sector projects (with a total value of US$5.5 billion) more
climate resilient (Vivid Economics 2015).
21 Private co-finance at the project level is the proxy used by most
financial institutions to estimate the level of private sector finance
mobilised with public sector financing. The reader is referred to, for
example, Brown et al. (2015), IDFC-MDBs (2015), and Stumhofer et al.
(2015).
22 This leads to under-reporting of the level of financing that influenc-
es adaptation. Nonetheless, over-reporting has also been observed
(Terpstra et al. 2013).
23 The studies, dubbed climate public expenditure reviews, were con-
ducted by the United Nations Development Programme. For each
country, the studies provide three-year averages for the latest set of
three contiguous data points available.
The Adaptation Finance Gap Report 29
Public sector budgets can be used to mobilise additional
private sector financing for adaptation. Key mechanisms for
doing so include:
Adjusting regulatory frameworks, to create stronger
incentives for private sector engagement.
Giving businesses access to the information and tools
they need to integrate adaptation into investment
decisions.
Integrating climate change considerations into the
financial system.
Demonstrating approaches, to create a track record
that helps increase market confidence and, therefore,
encourage investment.
Box 3.3: Public sector funding for domestic adaptation in developed countries
Most developed countries take an integrated approach to adaptation and only a few earmark funds for
adaptation-specific activities (Mullan et al. 2013). Earmarked budgets are primarily used for enhancing the enabling
environment for adaptation, rather than implementing specific adaptation measures. For example, France has
estimated that EUR 171 million (US$190 million) will be required to implement the national adaptation plan,
whereas Canada has set aside CAD 149 million (US$114 million) for the period from 2011 to 2016 (OECD 2015c).
Exceptions to this are, for instance, the European Union’s financial instrument for the environment, which makes
available co-financing worth EUR 190 million (US$215 million) for adaptation-specific activities in the period
between 2014 and 2020, or the disaster-risk reduction funds operating in Japan and Mexico, among other
countries.
04
The Adaptation Finance Gap Report 31
CHAPTER 4
PRIVATE SECTOR
FINANCE FOR
ADAPTATION
LEAD AUTHORS
AARON ATTERIDGE STOCKHOLM ENVIRONMENT
INSTITUTE, PIETER PAUW GERMAN DEVELOPMENT
INSTITUTE, PIETER TERPSTRA NETHERLANDS
MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
CONTRIBUTING AUTHORS (alphabetical)
FABIO BEDINI WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME,
LORENZO BOSSI WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME,
CECILIA COSTELLA WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME
Photo: © Stuart Price (AMISOM)
32 Chapter 4 | Private sector finance for adaptation
4.1 INTRODUCTION
An emphasis on private finance has emerged in climate
finance discussions, particularly in the context of
international climate change negotiations. This is partly
because the overall volume of finance needed to support
adaptation in developing countries (Chapter 2) is beyond
what many expect public finance to be able to contribute.
Despite this emphasis, the depth of empirical analysis on the
contribution of private finance to adaptation outcomes is
limited (Surminsky 2013, Pauw et al. 2015). The growing body
of literature on this issue covers four main areas:
Assessments that seek to identify, and even quantify,
private investment relevant to climate change
(Buchner et al. 2015, Brown et al. 2015).24
Reviews of experiences by multi-lateral development
banks providing finance to the private sector for
adaptation-related expenditure (Vivid Economics 2015,
Eurodad 2015).
Assessments of private financing for adaptation-relevant
concepts, such as climate-proofing (UNEPFI 2014) or
resilience (Trabacchi and Mazza 2015).25
Descriptions of cases in which the private sector provides
financing for adaptation, such as the UNFCCC Private
Sector Initiative (Pauw et al. 2015).
24 These studies underline the difficulties in defining what constitutes
adaptation-relevant finance.
25 Notwithstanding the usefulness of these efforts, they represent
narrow proxies for assessing the extent to which the private sector
can help bridge the adaptation finance gap.
The literature does not allow for a proper definition of
the private sector’s contribution to the financing of, and
expenditure on, adaptation-related outcomes. In light of this,
the goal of this chapter is to outline issues of relevance when
considering the prospects of private sector financing for
adaptation in developing countries (Box 4.1).
The chapter considers private sector financing for adaptation
in general, as opposed to a narrower focus on the extent to
which the private sector contributes to meeting international
climate finance goals.26 Not least, it is important to note
from the outset the sensitivities that frame any discussion of
the contribution of private sector finance to adaptation in
developing countries:
The emphasis on private sector finance is dominant
in neoliberal (often Western) political economies.
However, countries and communities with different
political economies might have other perspectives as
to what level and type of private investment is desirable
and appropriate. Stated differently, the concept that
mobilising private sector financing for adaptation is a
goal may not be shared by all.
Bridging the adaptation finance gap is not only a
question of mobilising more resources: discussions about
both public and private sector finance should be set
against a background of effective delivery. In other words,
it matters how finance connects with the priorities and
26 Specifically, the developed countries’ pledge under the United
Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to mobilise
US$100 billion in climate finance annually by 2020, to support devel-
oping countries with adaptation and mitigation.
KEY FINDINGS
Assessing the extent to which private sector financing contributes to increasing resilience in developing countries
is challenging because (i) data are scarce, (ii) the effectiveness of private sector investments is unclear, and (iii) the
extent to which private sector finance incentivises maladaptation is unknown.
There are indications that, perhaps with the exception of remittances, the international private sector is unlikely to be
a major source of adaptation finance in the most vulnerable countries. In these countries the emphasis should be on
strengthening the domestic private sector, as this sector is often dependent upon resources that are vulnerable to
climate change.
Remittances are an increasingly important source of external finance in many developing countries, and could play
an important role in supporting household-level adaptation.
International public finance can help mobilise domestic private investment in developing countries, provided that
the right incentives and policies are introduced.
The Adaptation Finance Gap Report 33
Box 4.1: Key challenges in assessing private sector financing for adaptation
Unlike bilateral and multi-lateral donors, who have to report on their adaptation-related investments, the private
sector has no obligation to do so. For this reason, data on financial transactions involving the private sector
generally tend to be unavailable. Therefore, the scant data collected in commercial databases understates the
actual level of private sector financing for adaptation (Agrawala et al. 2011, Pauw 2015).
Private investments in adaptation can create public benefits. However, the private sector is not accountable for
creating them. As a result, the extent to which private sector financing for adaptation is delivered effectively, and
how it affects regulatory efficiency and distributional equity, is unclear. Public sector expenditure for adaptation
outcomes can help increase the accountability of private sector financing for adaptation, by creating enabling
conditions that incentivise the right kind of private sector investment.
While some (private sector) finance flows may support adaptation priorities, other flows may erode community
resilience and reduce adaptive capacity. Identifying the latter is particularly relevant in the case of private sector
investments, due to the lack of accountability mentioned above, as well as for informing public responses and
frameworks for private action.
needs of recipient countries and communities, and how
lasting the outcomes are.
At present, the debate about private financing for adaptation
focuses on climate-proofing in the infrastructure, water and
agriculture sectors. Such a focus on responding to impacts
is arguably too narrow, and neglects key pre-conditions
for adaptation, notably those related to human health and
ecosystem resilience. For this reason, further consideration of
the private sector’s potential to facilitate investment at scale
in such public goods is warranted.
The remainder of the chapter is structured around two
sections. The first section summarises the information
available regarding private sector financing for adaptation
in developing countries, with a focus on climate bonds,
remittances and domestic private investment. The second
section outlines financial and non-financial tools that can be
used to mobilise private sector financing for adaptation in
developing countries.
4.2 EVIDENCE ABOUT PRIVATE SECTOR
FINANCING FOR ADAPTATION
In addition to ODA, foreign direct investment, portfolio
equity, private debt, and remittances make up the largest
components of financial inflows to developing countries.27
Although there are no quantitative estimates of the
adaptation-relevance of these flows (Chapter 3), there are
some indications of their potential relevance as outlined in
the following paragraphs.
27 Least-developed countries generally receive very little foreign
direct investment, equity, debt and remittances. In per-capita terms,
upper-middle income countries receive substantially more foreign
direct investment, and public and private debt, compared to all
other countries.
4.2.1 CLIMATE BONDS
Over the last decade interest has grown in using bonds
to raise capital specifically for climate change and
environmental objectives – climate bonds, and green bonds,
respectively. Bonds can raise capital for either private or
public expenditure, depending on who issues the bonds
in the market. It is estimated that 4.3 per cent of the
US$65.9 billion outstanding green bonds are linked
to climate adaptation projects (CBI 2015), while a
34 Chapter 4 | Private sector finance for adaptation
larger percentage are in sectors that may be relevant for
adaptation.28
At present, there are no international standards for
delineating green bonds from other bonds, and questions
have been raised as to whether the apparent rapid growth in
green bond finance actually generates new capital for green
investments, or instead reflects a re-labelling of traditional
bonds and investments. Further analysis is therefore needed
to properly explore the potential of the bond market
to substantially contribute new capital to adaptation
investment flows in developing countries.
28 For example, local governments in the United States have issued
green bonds for investment in water management. Among other
interventions, these bonds finance the widening of storm water
tunnels and more efficient waste-water treatment (CBI, 2015).
4.2.2 REMITTANCES
The value of remittances to developing countries is expected
to increase to US$516 billion in 2016 (World Bank 2015).
This is roughly 3.5 times the size of total ODA flowing to
developing countries in 2015 (OECD 2016), illustrating
the importance of remittances for developing countries’
economy, for individual households, and for small businesses
and entrepreneurs. Remittances may be valuable from an
adaptation-perspective because they tend to increase, for
instance, in the case of catastrophic weather events, natural
disasters or economic crises in the migrants’ country of
origin. Furthermore, remittances reach households directly,
including those in remote and vulnerable areas, more so than
public finance flows (Bendandi and Pauw 2016).
Remittances can help fund adaptation-related investments
ranging from short-term priorities, such as irrigation
equipment, to longer-term goals related to health and
education. For example, in water-stressed communities
in the Himalayas, remittances can be an important source
Figure 4.1: Tools for mobilising private sector financing for adaptation
Source: UNEP (2014)
Financial tools
Mobilising
private sector
finance
Non-financial tools
Public lending for
private expenditure
Provision of data
& information
Risk guarantees
& export credits
Introduction of
conducive policies
Public private
partnerships
Improved institutional
arrangements
The Adaptation Finance Gap Report 35
Box 4.2: Barriers to private sector financing for adaptation
Private sector financing for adaptation faces many of the same generic barriers to private sector investment
in developing countries, which climate change could magnify. In addition, it faces barriers that are specific to
adaptation to climate change:
Long-term planning needs. The long time-scales and uncertainties inherent in climate change are at
odds with the much shorter time horizons within which most businesses operate when making investment
decisions (Danielson and Scott 2006).
Unclear costs and benets. While adaptation is often framed as a measure to reduce future costs,
businesses tend to invest in actions that promote expansion and increase revenue, rather than in cost-
saving measures (UNEPFI 2014).
Limited autonomous earning power. Some kinds of adaptation, such as infrastructure projects, may
offer limited autonomous earning power for the investor, which is a barrier particularly for attracting equity
(UNEPFI 2014).
Social and cultural barriers. Adaptation is essentially a social change process, and social and cultural
factors may resist change, as evidenced, for instance, in the context of community adaptation to extreme
weather events (IFRC 2014).
These kinds of barriers are especially challenging for small- and medium-sized enterprises, whose ability
to understand the implications of climate change is limited, compared to that of larger businesses
(Stenek et al. 2013, Ballard et al. 2013). In addition, small- and medium-sized enterprises have more limited
access to finance, and even shorter planning horizons.
of finance for meeting basic household needs, including
following disaster events (Banerjee 2011).
4.2.3 DOMESTIC PRIVATE INVESTMENT
There is little empirical evidence about the extent to
which domestic private investment finances climate
change adaptation. In developing countries, micro- and
small-enterprises, and informal businesses provide the
largest contribution to GDP (Dalberg 2011). Many of these
enterprises are active in sectors that are sensitive to climate
change, notably agriculture (World Bank 2012)29. Therefore,
when engaging the private sector in adaptation, particular
attention should be paid to micro- and small-enterprises.
Investments in adaptation by these companies can
directly contribute to strengthening community resilience
(Dougherty-Choux et al. 2015).
4.3 MOBILISING PRIVATE SECTOR
FINANCING FOR ADAPTATION
Interventions by donors, DFIs, bilateral agencies and
governments can help to lower barriers (Box 4.2) to private
sector financing for adaptation (Chapter 3). Broadly, these
interventions can be classified as either non-financial or
financial.
4.3.1 NON-FINANCIAL INTERVENTIONS
Non-financial interventions are policies and regulations that
influence both investment conditions, and the specific kinds of
29 Micro- and small-enterprises are particularly affected by disasters,
and many go bankrupt after a natural disaster, because they lack the
financial means to face the costs of it (UNISDR 2013, UNDP 2013).
36 Chapter 4 | Private sector finance for adaptation
investments that are incentivised. Examples include (see also
Stenek et al. 2013):
Provision of data and information. The private sector
is unlikely to invest in climate and hydrological data, or in
decision-support tools for climate change-related risks, as
these are often perceived as public goods.
Improved institutional arrangements. Ensuring
appropriate coordination among public agencies, and
nurturing public-private partnerships that facilitate
implementation can foster private sector engagement.
Introduction of conducive policies. These include,
for example, inducements such as technical standards or
local zoning regulations that take into account changing
climate risks, or financial incentives for adaptation-
relevant technologies and practices.
Another important role for the public sector is to remove those
policies that potentially create maladaptation. For instance, low
water prices can lead to over-extraction and make investments
in drip-irrigation unattractive (IFC and EBRD 2013).
4.3.2 FINANCIAL INTERVENTIONS
To shift private sector finance towards adaptation, public
actors can rely on three main financial interventions: public
lending, risk guarantees and export credits, and public-private
partnerships (with a specific financial focus).30 These are
described in the following paragraphs, which complement the
findings presented in Chapter 3.
PUBLIC LENDING FOR PRIVATE EXPENDITURE
Of all providers of international climate finance, only multi-
lateral development banks report on the level of support
provided directly to private sector recipients (IDFC-MDB
2015). These data reveal two interesting patterns. Firstly, while
roughly one-third of the multi-lateral development banks’
overall climate finance in 2014 was borrowed or received by
private actors, less than 3 per cent of the US$5 billion spent
in adaptation finance went to private recipients. Secondly,
although approximately 30 per cent of all multi-lateral
development bank adaptation finance went to LDCs and
SIDS, only a tiny fraction of this (US$3 million) went directly to
private recipients.
Directing public finance towards private recipients does not
necessarily ensure good or diverse adaptation outcomes in
all sectors, or with all types of private actors. For example,
an analysis of development finance institutions and climate
funds that provide private finance argues that (i) they tend to
30 Public institutions are also able to blend public finance with private
finance in order, for instance, to lower the cost of capital (blending
commercial debt with grants to provide concessional lending), to
provide credit lines to local finance institutions for adaptation-re-
lated investments, or to provide risk-sharing instruments such
as first-loss guarantees, and separate treatment of political risks
(UNEP 2011).
focus on large projects, often involving foreign corporations,
and (ii) they deploy a wide array of tools to support private
companies, but most do not reach the informal economy,
and are frequently inadequate for supporting micro- and
small-enterprises in developing countries (Pereira et al. 2013).31
Moreover, reliance on financial intermediaries can result in
weak monitoring and transparency, and limit accountability
(Dzebo et al. 2015).
RISK GUARANTEES AND EXPORT CREDITS
Public finance can help reduce investment risks in projects
through instruments such as credit guarantees, political risk
insurance, hedging products such as currency and interest
swaps, and public catastrophe and weather risk insurance.
For example, insurance can spread and transfer the risks of
coping with climate-related natural disasters, and may provide
incentives for risk reduction and preventative behaviour (and
thus private adaptation expenditure) (Box 4.3). However,
insurance coverage is still much broader in developed
countries than in developing countries (Naidoo et al. 2012).
To mobilise more private investment in innovative insurance
products in developing countries, public finance is often
needed to fund research, pilot projects, and the data
collection that underpins local index-based insurance
(Pierro and Desai 2011, GIZ 2014).
Export credit agencies are another mechanism sometimes
used to support private investment. In 2014, the OECD
issued a revised sector understanding on export credits
for renewable energy, climate change mitigation and
adaptation, and water projects (OECD 2014). In an effort
to make investments in adaptation more attractive, it sets
favourable conditions for repayment of export credits to
adaptation projects. It is too soon to determine the extent
to which the revised sector understanding will contribute to
making export credit agencies a more useful tool for private
sector financing in adaptation. In the context of climate
change mitigation, concerns have been raised about the
small share of renewable energy projects financed through
export credits, in spite of the more favourable terms that
these projects receive, compared to projects that rely on
fossil fuel-powered technologies (ECA-Watch 2010).
PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS
Public-private partnerships have been depicted as a useful
vehicle for distributing risk, and thus drawing in private sector
investment. Infrastructure projects, where private finance
provides between 15 and 20 per cent of total investment in
developing countries, are a case in point (Eurodad 2015).
In recent years, the financial value of public-private
partnerships in developing countries has increased
dramatically. Nonetheless, most partnerships are clustered
in the energy and transport sectors in upper middle-
income countries. For example, between 2009 and 2014,
31 These tend to be important economic actors in developing coun-
tries, including from the point of view of employment.
The Adaptation Finance Gap Report 37
Box 4.3: The R4 Rural Resilience Initiative
The R4 Rural Resilience Initiative (R4) is a joint effort by the World Food Programme and Oxfam America. It
exemplifies how public finance can help reduce investment risks though the use of instruments such as
weather-index insurance.
R4 promotes the use of four risk management strategies: risk reduction, risk transfer, prudent risk-taking, and
risk reserves. It seeks to build resilience to weather-related shocks by fostering risk reduction in the form of
communal and/or individual asset creation, and by promoting risk sharing and risk transfer. The initiative comes
as a response to the lack of insurance mechanisms for addressing aggregate risk in developing countries, and
minimal uptake of insurance when it is made available.
During the 2015 agricultural season, R4 provided weather-index insurance and supported the creation of
disaster-risk reduction assets for more than 32,000 farmers in Ethiopia, Senegal, Malawi and Zambia. R4 works
with local private insurance companies and microfinance institutions, as well as global reinsurers such as
SwissRe.
only four partnerships out of 189 were finalised for water
infrastructure across all low-income countries.32 This pattern
may change over time, as many countries are still developing
institutional frameworks to support such partnerships
(Kennedy and Corfee-Morlot 2012).
32 An inventory of public-private partnerships is available online at: http://
ppi.worldbank.org/~/media/GIAWB/PPI/Documents/Data-Notes/PPI-
Note-IDA-Countries-to-2009-2014.pdf
However, the benefits of public-private partnerships in
supporting public goals, like adaptation, are sometimes
contested. Based on an analysis of public-private
partnerships for development purposes, it has been
suggested that (i) resource mobilisation is the main rationale
driving these partnerships, and (ii) there is little evidence of
them delivering better quality outcomes in terms of either
cost-effectiveness or environmental benefits (IOB 2013).
05
The Adaptation Finance Gap Report 39
CHAPTER 5
THE ADAPTATION
FINANCE GAP
AND PROSPECTS
FOR BRIDGING IT
LEAD AUTHOR
ANNE OLHOFF UNEP DTU PARTNERSHIP
Photo: © Skylar Bee (UNEP DTU Partnership)
40 Chapter 5 | The adaptation finance gap and prospects for bridging it
5.1 INTRODUCTION
The previous chapters of the report signal that developing
countries face an adaptation finance gap. Firstly, adaptation
costs are significant and likely to increase sharply in the
future. Secondly, although recent years have shown good
progress in terms of increasing international public finance
flows to adaptation, total finance for adaptation would
have to increase significantly to meet the estimated costs of
adaptation, and avoid an adaptation finance gap.
In this chapter, central findings of the previous chapters of
the report are synthesised to shed light on the following key
questions:
What do we know about the adaptation finance gap?
What is required to bridge it?
What is the relevance of the report’s findings in the
context of strengthening adaptation under the Paris
Agreement?
5.2 THE ADAPTATION FINANCE GAP
– NOW AND IN THE FUTURE
Today, developing countries already face an adaptation
finance gap – a gap that is likely to increase significantly
over the period 2030 to 2050, unless new and additional
finance for adaptation is mobilised through public and
private sources, nationally as well as internationally. This is
the key message emerging from the previous chapters of
the report. While uncertainties and data limitations prevent
firm conclusions regarding the exact size of the adaptation
finance gap now and in the future, overcoming these
shortcomings is unlikely to change this key message.
Figure 5.1 shows how the adaptation finance gap could
develop for the time period until 2050. As Chapters 3 and
4 illustrate, currently it is only possible to include data on
international public adaptation finance flows. The figure
consequently shows how international public finance for
adaptation compares to the estimated costs of adaptation
for three different points in time: now, 2030 and 2050.
For 2030 and 2050 the figure further illustrates how the
estimated costs of adaptation compare to the commitment
by developed country parties of mobilizing US$100 billion
per year for mitigation and adaptation from 2020 (assuming
that this amount will be split equally between mitigation and
adaptation). Figure 5.1 thus gives an indication of how much
greater total finance for adaptation would have to be to
avoid an adaptation finance gap at these three points in time.
Figure 5.1 shows that adaptation costs today are likely to be
at least two-to-three times higher than international public
finance for adaptation. Estimates of current adaptation costs
(US$56-73 billion per annum for the period 2010-2019) are
taken from the World Bank (2010), which is the key source
for the global adaptation cost estimate of US$70-100
billion for developing countries for the period 2010-2050,
referenced by the IPCC and cited in Chapter 2. This range
of current adaptation costs is comparable to the indicative
adaptation cost estimates included in the adaptation
components of developing country NDCs. The estimate of
current international public adaptation finance flowing to
developing countries of US$22.5 billion in 2014 is taken from
Chapter 3.
Turning to 2030, the assessment of national- and sector-
based studies in Chapter 2 concluded that, by 2030,
adaptation costs are likely to be in the range of US$140-
300 billion per annum, that is, two-to-three times higher
than the World Bank estimates of US$70-100 billion. Total
finance for adaptation would thus have to be six-to-thirteen
times higher than current levels of international public
adaptation finance to avoid an adaptation finance gap in
2030. International public adaptation finance is, however,
unlikely to remain at current levels until 2030. As noted
earlier in the report, the Paris Agreement restated the 2020
commitment by developed country parties of mobilizing
US$100 billion per year for adaptation and mitigation until
2025, and requires parties to increase that commitment
after 2025. For this reason it may be more relevant to
compare the estimated adaptation costs in 2030 to this
international climate finance commitment. Assuming that
the commitment of mobilizing US$100 billion per year from
2020 is fully met (and potentially increased after 2025), and
assuming that this amount is distributed equally between
mitigation and adaptation, international adaptation finance
flows from developed to developing countries for adaptation
would reach at least US$50 billion by 2030. Under these
assumptions, total finance for adaptation would have to
The Adaptation Finance Gap Report 41
Figure 5.1: Conceptualising the adaptation finance gap
Upper range of costs US $50 billion pledge
Lower range of costs International public finance
500
400
300
200
100
450
350
250
150
50
Adaptation costs (in billion US$)
2x - 3x
higher
3x - 6x higher
6x - 13x higher
6x - 10x higher
12x - 22x higher
Today
56-73
22.5 22.5
50 50
22.5
140-300
280-500
2030 2050
0
42 Chapter 5 | The adaptation finance gap and prospects for bridging it
be roughly three-to-six times higher to meet likely finance
needs in 2030.
It should be noted that, as specified in Chapter 3, the
current figure of US$22.5 billion for international public
finance flowing to developing countries includes all
tracked international public financial flows for adaptation.
This figure combines ODA and non-ODA finance
originating from developed and developing country
governments, adaptation-dedicated multilateral climate
funds and development finance institutions. These flows
are much broader than the amount that counts towards
developed countries’ commitment of mobilizing US$100
billion per year from 2020. It follows that part of the
international public finance for adaptation by 2030 would
not be included in the US$50 billion figure outlined
above.
In 2050, adaptation costs could be in the range of US$280-500
billion (four-to-five times US$70-100 billion, see Chapter 2).
The potential adaptation finance gap would consequently be
much larger – in the order of between twelve-to-twenty-two
times current flows of international public adaptation finance,
or six-to-ten times the US$50 billion commitment (assuming
an equal split between adaptation and mitigation).
As noted previously in the report, adaptation costs, and thus
finance needs, are emissions dependent. Adaptation costs
in 2030, and particularly 2050, could be even higher than
indicated in this section if mitigation ambition is insufficient
to keep the world on a 2°C track.
Finally, although the report finds that adaptation costs are
likely to be much higher than previous estimates, they still
only represent a fraction of current and projected GDP.
5.3 BRIDGING THE
ADAPTATION FINANCE GAP
To address the adaptation finance gap effectively, action
targeted both at (i) reducing adaptation needs, and thereby
the costs of adaptation, and (ii) scaling up the level of
finance flowing to adaptation, is required. Efficiency is a
main issue for both types of action. The following section
highlights key options for bridging the adaptation finance
gap effectively and efficiently within these two areas,
drawing on the findings of the previous chapters of the
report.
5.3.1 ENHANCING MITIGATION AMBITION
Mitigation ambition has direct implications for adaptation
needs and costs. The assessment undertaken in this report
and in the preliminary UNEP Adaptation Gap Report
(UNEP 2014) confirms that adaptation costs are emission-
dependent. This is expected for longer timeframes, looking
beyond 2050, since there is a time lag between the point in
time when greenhouse gases are emitted and the point in
time when climate change impacts materialise. However,
indicative results from integrated assessment models show
that adaptation costs may vary with different emission
trajectories as early as 2030 (see the Appendix to this
report). This underlines the urgency of enhancing mitigation
ambition, and of boosting pre-2020 mitigation action, to
limit climate change and its impacts and keep adaptation
costs and challenges at manageable levels. Furthermore,
it highlights the relevance of directly linking adaptation to
the 2°C temperature target as part of the global goal on
adaptation under the Paris Agreement.
5.3.2 MAKING DEVELOPMENT CLIMATE
RESILIENT
The trend in international public finance for adaptation over
recent years reflects increasing attention to mainstreaming
adaptation into development co-operation practices (UNEP
2014), and a growing focus on climate resilient development.
As the discussion in Chapter 2 highlights, it is imperative to
address existing adaptation and development gaps, as they
have important implications for countries’ ability to address
adaptation needs, and reduce vulnerability in the future, as
well as for the associated costs.
5.3.3 SCALING UP FINANCE FOR
ADAPTATION
Section 5.2 of this chapter illustrates the urgency of scaling
up all sources of finance. The Paris Agreement urges
The Adaptation Finance Gap Report 43
developed countries to “significantly increase adaptation
finance from current levels” (UNFCCC 2015) and the UNFCCC
process is likely to be critical for increasing international
finance for adaptation. While it is widely acknowledged that
there is a need to bring all types of finance into play, it is also
clear that adaptation in developing countries will continue to
require grants. Tracking domestic funding is a priority, as this
source of financing is believed to be important in the near-
and longer-term, and data about its size and destinations are
currently lacking.
Similarly, a more systematic and explicit approach is required
to both understand the extent to which private sector
financing complements public sector budgets, and the
ways in which private sector engagement can be bolstered.
One of the emerging lessons is the need to establish policy
frameworks and legislation that creates the incentives for
private sector investment in adaptation. This is an area where
experience and best practice from numerous other areas,
notably mitigation and environment, is available to inform
the process.
While quantitative estimates of private finance flows for
adaptation are lacking, private domestic investment and
remittances are good examples of adaptation-relevant
investment. Private domestic investment levels are rising in
developing countries and, if this trend holds true for micro-
and small-sized enterprises, a portion of those funds can
be expected to be spent on adaptation-relevant activities,
particularly for those enterprises active in agriculture, a sector
that is especially sensitive to climate change.
Remittances may be valuable from an adaptation perspective
because they tend to increase in cases of catastrophic
weather events and natural disasters in migrants’ countries of
origin. Furthermore, remittances reach households directly,
including those in remote and vulnerable areas, more so than
public finance flows.
The above points are well aligned with the information
provided in the adaptation components of the NDCs, where
it is apparent that countries perceive a current finance gap,
and that they realise the need for domestic budgets as a
key part of the solution for bridging that gap. They are also
aware of the need for greater mobilisation of private finance
(both domestic and international). Nonetheless, international
public finance is still perceived as a key source of finance for
adaptation.
5.3.4 ENSURING EFFECTIVENESS AND
EFFICIENCY OF RESOURCE USE
Effectiveness and efficiency implies that available funds are
targeted where they are most needed and used optimally
to ensure they have the greatest possible impact. To this
end, and in addition to other goals, such as maximising the
number of beneficiaries, prioritising the most vulnerable,
or delivering the highest value for money, prioritising
adaptation will be of the utmost importance (Chapter
2). There is growing evidence that adaptation has the
potential to be extremely beneficial and cost-effective
when planned with uncertainty and implementation in
mind. Against this background, the importance of the
phasing and timing of adaptation practices is increasingly
being recognised: more and more, adaptation actions are
differentiated depending on whether they target current
climate variability or future climate change. Overall, there is
a shift toward early adaptation actions, low-regret options,
capacity building, and options that build-in flexibility and
robustness for long-term decisions, complemented with
early planning for major future risks – all of it increasingly
integrated in regular development projects and actions, as
highlighted above.
Total finance flows to adaptation are not known, which
hampers attempts to both evaluate the effectiveness of
current spending levels, and determine future financing
requirements. As highlighted in Chapter 3, a proper
measurement, tracking, and reporting system of adaptation
investments is indispensable to ensure that finance is used
efficiently and targeted where it is most needed. To date,
resources disbursed through adaptation-focused climate
funds have had some of the poorest countries in sub-
Saharan African and South Asia as main recipients, and
small-island developing states are among the main recipients
of adaptation finance for disaster-risk reduction. Increasing
the transparency of reporting by finance providers in general,
and particularly for dedicated adaptation funds, is central to
document and enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of
climate finance.
There is evidence that dedicated climate funds are helping
break down barriers to investment in adaptation projects in
developing countries and play an important role in catalysing
a wide range of adaptation-related investments. They do
this by strengthening the capacities of local stakeholders,
creating incentives for institutions and investors (for example,
by offering concessional terms) and, ultimately, by taking on
risks from which commercial financiers would typically shy
away.
To summarize, bridging the adaptation finance gap is
not only a question of mobilising more resources. As
highlighted in Chapter 4, both public and private sector
finance have to be placed in the context of effective
delivery, to ensure that finance corresponds to the priorities
and needs of recipient countries and communities, and
results in lasting outcomes.
44 Chapter 5 | The adaptation finance gap and prospects for bridging it
5.4 THE PARIS AGREEMENT
AND THE WAY FORWARD
The Paris Agreement contains a number of provisions that
are central to discussions on adaptation costs, needs and
finance. This section highlights some of these provisions,
while suggesting options for bolstering adaptation finance
and, more generally, for making progress toward adaptation.
As noted above, clear goals and targets are indispensable to
identify adaptation needs and options, steer investments,
enable progress-tracking, and strengthen policy awareness
and action. Indeed, that is a key premise behind the UNEP
gap reports. Experience from other global processes, such
as the Millennium Development Goals and the Sustainable
Development Goals, corroborates the importance of setting
targets to enhance policy commitment and action.
The Paris Agreement establishes a global adaptation goal
“of enhancing adaptive capacity, strengthening resilience
and reducing vulnerability to climate change, with a view
to contributing to sustainable development and ensuring
an adequate adaptation response in the context of the
temperature goal referred to in Article 2” (UNFCCC 2015).
The goal can be seen as recognition that adaptation is both
a global and a local challenge, or as reflecting an implicit
principle of common, but differentiated, adaptation needs.
However, since it is a highly generic and qualitative goal, a
central question remains: how to operationalise it at different
scales (local to global), as part of the implementation of the
Agreement.
More specific goals, targets and indicators for adaptation that
build on an in-depth understanding of local and national
vulnerabilities, priorities and needs, seem critical from an
operational perspective. The NDCs highlight current and
short-term expected adaptation needs and priorities, and
several of the adaptation components include information
that can be used as a first step toward cementing adaptation
goals and targets at sectoral and national levels. The
NDCs made clear that knowledge of adaptation costs and
financing flows is fundamental for developing countries
to manage medium to long-term adaptation. The need for
consistent methodologies and metrics around adaptation
costs and finance became apparent from the NDCs, and is
echoed in the Paris Agreement.
The assessment of the evidence on adaptation needs and
costs, and adaptation finance flows provided in this report
highlights that flexible, but clear and comprehensive,
frameworks are needed to guide national assessments
and underpin global stocktaking efforts. Methodology
development is emphasised and will be required to
implement the provisions of the Paris Agreement – both
those that entail action on the part of parties to the climate
convention, and those that mandate the secretariat to the
convention to conduct a global stocktaking.
In regards to estimating the costs of adaptation, three key
messages emerge. Firstly, as demonstrated in Chapter 2,
there is an urgent need for more empirical studies to address
key coverage gaps for those sectors or risks which are
currently poorly or partially covered. Moreover, to ensure the
success of such empirical studies, there is a need for testing
how the choice of methods and assumptions affect the cost
estimates, for example, with sensitivity testing and multi-
model analyses. Secondly, there are important potential
lessons to be learnt from assessing cost out-turns (ex post
costs) from existing or early adaptation practice, to better
take account of opportunity, transaction and implementation
costs. Thirdly, it is important to better understand the
transferability of options (by aggregation scale and between
locations).
In regards to estimating adaptation finance, three provisions
under the Paris Agreement are of particular relevance. The
Paris Agreement urges developed countries to “significantly
increase adaptation finance from current levels” and one of
the convention’s subsidiary bodies is requested to develop
modalities for the accounting of financial resources provided
and mobilised through public interventions. Such an effort is
expected to increase the accountability of financial pledges
for climate change. Additionally, the political commitment
for a (low-carbon and) climate-resilient economy is renewed,
which strengthens the position of first-mover investors
and financiers, and represents a call for action to laggards.
This is particularly relevant in relation to the findings of this
assessment, as Chapter 3 demonstrated that increasing
adaptation finance flows remains an urgent priority.
The Adaptation Finance Gap Report 45
Photo: © Trust for Africas Orphans
The Adaptation Finance Gap Report 45
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The Adaptation Finance Gap Report 53
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... A comprehensive set of virtual climate observations were developed that reflected many possible future regional climates, some of which were drier and some of which were wetter. The 2016 Adaptation Finance Gap Report from the United Nations Environment Program evaluated the expenses of meeting adaptation requirements and assessed the funding that was available for doing so (Puig et al., 2016). The report suggested that although international public funding for adaptation has increased in recent years, previous assessments of the costs of adaptation have been significantly underestimated. ...
... A United Nations report estimated that the cost of climate change adaptation investments in the developing world may reach $500 billion per year by 2050. It is therefore essential to target infrastructure investments efficiently to reach the widest number of vulnerable communities(Puig et al., 2016).Pramanik et al. (2017) reported that hypersaline brines are of growing environmental concern. ...
... explained that overall, the global study estimated that the cost between 2010 and 2050 of adapting to an approximately 2 o C warmer world by 2050 is in the range of $70 billion to $100 billion per year. Similar results were reported byPuig et al. (2016) for the United Nations were the estimated cost of climate change adaptation investments in the developing world was predicted as $500 billion per year by 2050. However, this was more than five times greater than that estimated byMargulis et al. (2010).Cox et al. ( ...
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